Former Cicero Police Awarded $1.7M
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CHICAGO (AP) _ A federal jury awarded $1.7 million Monday to two former Cicero police officials who claimed they were fired for cooperating with an FBI investigation of corruption there.
The lawsuit was brought by former Police Chief David Niebur and former Deputy Chief Philip Bue. They sued the town, its president and former lawyer.
The town claimed that Niebur and Bue were fired for disobeying orders and allowing the police department to fall into disarray.
Niebur was awarded about $900,000 and Bue $800,000. Niebur said the jury had found that he and Bue were fired for being honest in a corrupt town.
``What the jury has said is that it’s a badge of honor to be fired by the town of Cicero,″ he said. Several Cicero officials have been indicted in the last three years on federal corruption charges.
The two men had asked for $1 million each, saying they were fired for cooperating in an FBI investigation of a contract between the town and a towing company, Ram Recovery Inc.
Ram Recovery came under scrutiny when residents complained that the company was too quick to tow cars parked illegally and that fees to get cars out of the Ram lot were too high.
Niebur and Bue raised questions about the company’s ownership. They suspected some town officials may have owned shares in the towing company _ something town President Betty Loren-Maltese denied during the trial.
No town officials or any of Ram’s owners have ever been accused of wrongdoing by federal investigators.
Town officials, who plan to appeal the verdict, claimed Niebur and Bue were fired partly because they refused to cooperate with the former town counsel’s own investigation of the towing contract.
The suit follows years of corruption and controversy that have plagued Cicero since the 1920s, when Al Capone made the Chicago suburb the capital of his bootlegging empire. In the past three years, eight town officials have been indicted by federal grand juries.