Des Plaines spent $189,000 in failed legal fight to fire cop

 
 
Updated 7/27/2017 12:44 PM
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Des Plaines spent nearly $189,000 in legal fees during a failed attempt to keep a fired cop from rejoining the police department, according to public records.

Aldermen last week approved a settlement with John Bueno, the officer fired in 2012 amid accusations he beat arrestees, lied during an internal investigation and made false arrests. Officials have justified the settlement in part by arguing the city would have spent more on challenging an arbitrator's ruling without the guarantee of a win.

The city spent $188,769 in legal costs before abandoning the effort to terminate Bueno, who was represented by the Metropolitan Alliance of Police, according to the public records released last week.

Under the agreement, Bueno will keep his $93,000-a-year job, receive nearly $200,000 in back pay and be eligible for a pension.

But the city won't give Bueno a badge, gun, uniform or a place to work in the police department. Instead, he'll complete administrative tasks while working at home.

Bueno also agreed to retire March 31, 2019 -- the first day he's eligible for a pension. Additionally, he will be in a "last chance" period for the remainder of his employment, meaning the city can fire Bueno for any similar misconduct.

In 2012, an internal investigation determined Bueno violated the city's policy for use of force, failed to disclose his use of force and lied about it during the investigation. While an arbitrator agreed Bueno had broken the rules, he determined the 10-year veteran officer could return to work after a suspension because the city had delayed too long in starting an investigation.

The city challenged the decision, but eventually an Illinois appellate court returned the case to arbitration, where an arbitrator determined it was unlikely Bueno would repeat the misconduct.

The city has already spent $64,000 to settle a lawsuit alleging Bueno punched a handcuffed arrestee and $32,000 for another lawsuit claiming he and two other officers falsely arrested a woman.

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