WOODSTOCK – A deputy and his wife lied under oath as part of a federal lawsuit against the McHenry County Sheriff, and as a sanction against them, they will have to pay a substantial amount of the sheriff's legal bills, a judge ruled.
U.S. District Judge Frederick J. Kapala stopped short of tossing Zane Seipler's case in its entirely, however.
Seipler is suing Sheriff Keith Nygren, alleging that his civil rights were violated when he was fired out of retaliation for blowing the whistle on racial profiling. Nygren has said Seipler was fired because he wrote 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 about a year ago.
As part of the federal lawsuit, Seipler was given confidential internal documents including disciplinary records, which ended up being published on a blog called "The Real MCSO Exposed."
Seipler initially said in an affidavit that he did not know who owned the website, didn't give anyone the documents, and didn't know how the person got them.
But he then presented an alternative explanation for how the files ended up on the blog: His wife, Rosalinda, did it without his knowledge.
Rosalinda Seipler testified that she found some documents in an office area and decided to post them online so that "people will see ... that all this information has been covered up about these deputies."
At a hearing, she was asked to demonstrate how she created a blog using a courtroom computer connected to the Internet.
But she was unable to do so, and couldn't navigate to the correct website used to create the blogs. The judge called her attempt "feeble" in contrast with Zane Seipler, who "easily" was able to show the court how to create a blog.
Kapala said he had the opportunity to carefully observe the demeanor of the Seiplers while they were testifying, and he found that neither was telling the truth.
Their testimony was consistent with each other's, but was based on a "fabricated narrative that conveniently explained what had transpired," the judge said.
"There is no justification for such a blatant disregard of the oath that they each took, and their willingness to repeatedly lie to the court in order to protect this case from the possibility of being dismissed is an affront to the integrity of this court," Kapala said.
The judge did not address Seipler's allegation that he was fired out of retaliation. Kapala declined to toss the case entirely because of the "tangential" relationship of the documents being posted online to the merits of the case.
Nevertheless, the judge said that Seipler's misconduct was serious and he believed a substantial penalty was warranted. Nygren's attorneys were ordered to submit within 30 days a detailed listing of their fees and costs – which likely will be significant.
Nygren's attorney, Jim Sotos, said that amount is to be determined.
"[The judge] found that Seipler and his wife lied about their ridiculous assertion that she did the blogs, and that his conduct was an affront to the integrity of the court," Sotos said. "We're pleased that the court's decision vindicated our arguments."