McHenry County wants deputy to pay sheriff's legal bill
WOODSTOCK – Although Deputy Zane Seipler’s request for a special prosecutor to investigate the sheriff was denied, the case is not quite over.
McHenry County wants Seipler and his attorney to pick up the county’s tab, alleging that their petition “was done solely for the purpose of harassing the Sheriff and the County,” according to court documents.
County records show that Bill Caldwell, who has been representing the county’s interests, has been paid $23,871 from September through early this month for his work on the case. The county also is seeking compensation for the work of the assistant state’s attorneys who worked on the case, although a dollar figure has not yet been determined.
Sheriff Keith Nygren said he fired Seipler in 2008 for writing traffic tickets or warnings to passengers rather than drivers who did not have valid licenses. After arbitration and a series of rulings in Seipler’s favor, Nygren was forced to give Seipler his job back. He returned in mid-March.
Seipler accuses Nygren of using images of a badge with a seven-point star for both political and official purposes, which he says amounts to theft, official misconduct and misappropriation of funds.
But Caldwell said there never has been an official star for the McHenry County Sheriff’s Office, which used seven-point stars before Nygren was elected.
A seven-point star also has been used around the country by multiple police departments for more than 100 years.
“The argument concerning the five-point and seven-point star is solely a political argument interposed for the purpose of harassing the sheriff,” Caldwell said.
As part of his request for a special prosecutor, Seipler submitted several amended petitions, including allegations from another deputy, Scott Milliman, that Nygren solicited murder and trafficked illegal immigrants.
Caldwell included a letter from the FBI to the undersheriff saying that Milliman’s accusations lacked “prosecutive merit.” Milliman since has been fired.
Seipler’s attorney, Blake Horwitz, could not be reached for comment.
A month ago, Judge Thomas A. Meyer said he wouldn’t appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the claims Seipler made against Nygren, saying that any decision to prosecute lies exclusively with the state’s attorney.
State’s Attorney Lou Bianchi has said, however, that he believes there is an ethical conflict because he currently represents the sheriff on several civil matters.
Caldwell, a private attorney, was appointed to represent the county after Bianchi took Assistant State’s Attorney Don Leist off the case, citing “procedural posture.” Leist since has left the state’s attorney’s office and gone to work for the sheriff’s office as an equal employment opportunity officer.
Seipler, who unsuccessfully ran against Nygren in the 2010 Republican primary, also has a lawsuit pending in federal court, alleging that he was fired for blowing the whistle on racial profiling and not over the ticket controversy.
• Northwest Herald senior reporter Kevin Craver contributed to this report.