City wants Aurora cop fired for spying on ex-wife with hidden cameras
The city of Aurora wants a nine-year police officer fired -- not just suspended -- for installing hidden cameras in his ex-wife's home and viewing videos on his department phone on a daily basis.
Daniel Wagner was fired by the city Jan. 18, 2017. An arbitrator ruled last year he be suspended one year and reinstated Jan. 18, 2018.
The city's lawsuit asks a judge to overturn the arbitrator's ruling, saying it was "repugnant" and "in Illinois, that by virtue of their positions, police officers must be held strictly accountable for their off-duty misconduct."
Police Chief Kristen Ziman also recommended Wagner's termination, concluding that "monitoring his ex-wife daily, both from his work and personal cellphone, using cameras that were installed goes beyond 'lack of judgment' or emotion. It was a willful and wanton disregard for the law," records show.
Wagner's now ex-wife, Lisa Wagner, found a hidden camera in her Sugar Grove home in September 2016, called police and a family friend, Kane County sheriff's Sgt. Ron Hain, to investigate.
While Hain was locating and removing cameras from the home, Wagner was texting Hain saying it would ruin his life "forever" if he were convicted of a felony and asking Hain to persaude Lisa Wagner not to press charges.
"Dude, I'm gonna get fired. ... They have to investigate. They will prove it's illegal and I'm fired. Eavesdropping, yea," read part of the texts, according to court records.
The arbitrator ruled Hain's testimony showed Lisa Wagner did not consent to the cameras.
Wagner has not been charged with criminal wrongdoing. Lisa Wagner refused to cooperate with Aurora police investigators and did not testify at Wagner's arbitration hearing, records show.
"We addressed this case appropriately based on the available evidence," Kane County First Assistant State's Attorney Jody Gleason said Monday, declining to elaborate.
An arbitrator ruled after an October 2017 hearing that firing Wagner was "too harsh," he was highly emotional because of a pending divorce, got good work reviews and should be reinstated.
"The remedy needs to be severe enough that (Wagner) and the police community know such behavior is not acceptable. A police officer breaking the law is the antithesis of what a police officer is supposed to be," wrote arbitrator Paul Lansing. "However, the remedy also needs to take into account the circumstances of (Wagner's) breach of the law."
Ziman said in an email Monday Wagner is terminated pending the judge's ruling, declining to comment further.
Lisa Wagner filed for divorce in November 2015. According to the city's lawsuit and arbitrator's findings, Wagner installed cameras in several locations, including the kitchen and bedroom, without her consent in March 2016. He viewed videos via Wi-Fi then and after he moved out in July 2016 after the divorce was final.
Union officials argued Wagner was not charged with any crime and a 15-day suspension was fitting.
The union argued other public employees had not been fired after committing worse actions while off-duty.
A message for Tim O'Neil, a union attorney who represented Wagner in the arbitration hearing, was not returned. A message for Aurora Detective Kevin Jenkins, the union president, was not returned. A message left for Hain was not returned.
The case is due before Judge David Akemann May 4.