Algonquin Township phone lampoon reported to authorities, but investigation goes nowhere

Algonquin Township Highway Commissioner Andrew Gasser addresses the board during a meeting Feb. 14.
Algonquin Township Highway Commissioner Andrew Gasser addresses the board during a meeting Feb. 14.

ALGONQUIN TOWNSHIP – After someone reprogrammed Algonquin Township’s phone system to include a voice recording lampooning the township’s recent in-house turmoil, Highway Commissioner Andrew Gasser reported the incident to the McHenry County Sheriff’s Office.

The case, essentially, went nowhere.

Because of a conflict of interest, the sheriff’s office kicked the matter to another agency: the McHenry County State’s Attorney’s Office, a body that has the power to prosecute but not initiate a criminal investigation.

“The report was referred to the state’s attorney’s office, as we have conflicted out of any investigation involving Algonquin Township,” sheriff’s office spokeswoman Sandra Rogers said.

In order to investigate a case, the prosecutor’s office first needs a referral from a law enforcement agency, such as the Illinois State Police. The Northwest Herald reached out to the Illinois State Police to see whether the agency is involved.

“The ISP is not involved with this case,” Illinois State Police Lt. Matt Boerwinkle said.

It now appears the case is in limbo.

A source inside the state’s attorney’s office said top prosecutor Patrick Kenneally is not looking at the Algonquin Township phone incident at this time.

Kenneally would not comment.

The Northwest Herald asked Rogers to explain the conflict inside the sheriff’s office and provide an incident report. As of Sunday night, she had not replied.

The newspaper reached out to Sheriff Bill Prim multiple times for comment, but he did not call back.

A dive into local politics and McHenry County’s legal history reveals what those conflicts might be.

Prim endorsed former Algonquin Township Highway Commissioner Bob Miller in the campaign leading to his upset loss to Gasser in the
February 2016 primary.

Gasser’s attorney, Robert Hanlon, has represented Prim in the past, Hanlon said. The attorney would not comment on what the case involved.

The phone incident happened Wednesday. For an unknown stretch of time that morning, residents called Algonquin Township’s main line at 847-639-2700 and pressed zero – but they didn’t get connected to an operator.

Instead, they heard this message: “Thank you for calling the Algonquin Township. Our offices are currently closed. For patronage employment information, press one. For information to learn more about how we are wasting taxpayer dollars, press two. To contribute to our legal defense fund, press three. For more options, or to reach gasbag, press five.”

The voice message, removed from the system about noon Wednesday, was a clear jab at recent turmoil inside McHenry County’s most populous township, where in-house lawsuits, astronomical legal fees, numerous corruption allegations at the highway department and allegations of patronage and cronyism have engulfed the community’s consciousness in recent months.

Gasser, a target of the message, said he had no idea who broke into the phone system. He called the message a political attack.

The Northwest Herald reached out to Gasser for this story, but he did not respond.

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