Schaumburg settles last lawsuit against former cops
Schaumburg trustees have settled the last of 17 lawsuits filed against the village and three former police officers arrested in January 2013 on multiple drug conspiracy charges.
With the last settlement approved -- awarding $135,000 to plaintiff Sergio Garcia, formerly of Franklin Park -- the village has spent about $1.33 million dealing with legal fallout from the officers' actions.
Schaumburg also paid the law enforcement consulting firm of Hillard Heintze $147,000 to perform an assessment of the police department after the officers' arrests and recommend changes.
But Village Manager Brian Townsend believes the painful process of the last few years resulted in positive changes to a department that plays a critical role in the community.
"I think from the police department's standpoint, we're in a much better position today than we were three years ago," Townsend said. "The three people who caused the majority of these problems were just bad individuals. Vigilance is the key word, and making sure you have good supervision and exercise it."
As with all the previous settlements, the agreement ending Garcia's suit admits to no wrongdoing on behalf of the village or any of its past or present employees, including former officers Terrance O'Brien, Matthew Hudak and John Cichy.
All the lawsuits alleged some combination of false arrest, illegal search or malicious prosecution by one or more of those three officers.
Garcia's lawsuit, naming O'Brien and Hudak as defendants, was the most difficult -- and resulted in the largest settlement -- because Garcia served three years in prison after they arrested him on drug charges in 2011, Schaumburg attorney Jim Sotos said. Garcia was released after the officers' arrests and then deported to Mexico.
The village believed the case was defensible through testimony from other police officers, but officials also conceded that the credibility of the arresting officers had been tainted.
"We knew a jury was not going to be a fan of Hudak and O'Brien," Sotos said.
O'Brien and Hudak have pleaded guilty to felony charges and are serving prison sentences of 38 and 26 years, respectively. Cichy is still awaiting trial.