Drew Peterson case inspires proposed bill to strip pensions from convicted felons

Rep. Darlene Senger, R-Naperville

Rep. Darlene Senger

A new bill currently making its way through the General Assembly could make it a lot easier for the Bolingbrook Police Pension Board to take away the pension of convicted murderer, Drew Peterson.

Proposed Illinois House Bill 5816 would let pension boards consider some new criteria with regards to dispersal of pension benefits.  The bill which was introduced last month would let boards consider official misconduct and felony convictions grounds for forfeiture.

It says if you have been convicted or pleaded guilty to corruption charges, then the board can withhold your pension,” said 41st District Rep. Darlene Senger, R-Naperville, the bill’s sponsor.

But, more pertinent to the Drew Peterson situation, the bill would also make a felony grounds for possible forfeiture, stating:

..if a member or participant of a pension fund or retirement system established under the Code is receiving an annuity or pension from a pension fund or retirement system established under the Code and is convicted of, or pleads guilty to, a felony…then the board of trustees of that fund or system shall suspend the payment of that annuity or pension during that individual’s incarceration for that offense.

In Peterson’s case, that would be 38 years.

The Naperville Sun reports that Senger’s motivation for the bill arose from the current Drew Peterson situation. The Bolingbrook board voted last week to hold hearings to decide whether they should put an end to Peterson’s benefits, something that may be difficult to do under current law which is protective of civil employees.

There is another part to the proposed legislation, however, that could allow Peterson to continue collecting his annual $79k payout. It would allow pension boards leeway when the beneficiary of the pension is a child.  That part of the bill has not yet gone to a vote.

Currently, Peterson’s adult son, Stephen, is receiving his father’s pension benefits and has custodial care of his father’s two minor children. Their mother is Stacy Peterson who has been missing since October 2007. Drew Peterson is the only named suspect in connection to her disappearance and Stephen lost his job when he failed to tell his superiors about accepting guns and money from his father immediately after Stacy went missing.

Peterson’s attorneys have filed an appeal of his murder conviction and it is expected to be argued in appellate court some time in the Fall of this year.

Also, in “this is starting to feel like a prolonged case of déjà vu” news, the Illinois Supreme Court has denied Stephen Peterson’s request to appeal the Appellate Court decision that upheld the Village of Oak Brook’s decision to terminate him from his position with the Police Department.

I guess he’ll have to seek solace by buying more Blackhawks tickets with his dad’s pension benefits…
steve-peterson-hawks

From the March Illinois Supreme Court Docket:

117194 Stephen Peterson, petitioner, v. Village of Oak Brook, etc., et al., respondents.
Leave to appeal, Appellate Court, Second District.

Sources:
Illinois House Bill 5816 text
Illinois House Bill 5816 Summary
Naperville Sun
My Suburban Life

Attorney hired by Bolingbrook recommends going after Drew Peterson’s pension

Drew Peterson Mugshot as of January 2014
Today the Chicago Tribune reported that after a 9-month review, attorney Charles Atwell sent a letter to the Bolingbrook Police Pension Fund stating his opinion that there is enough evidence to challenge Drew Peterson’s $79k yearly pension.

Atwell, a public pension expert, was hired in March of last year to study the transcripts of Peterson’s trial for the murder of ex-wife, Kathleen Savio, and to determine if the convicted man had used the knowledge and skills gained as a police officer in the killing.

Under Illinois law, if challenged Drew Peterson would have the right to a public hearing which would be somewhat like a trial, in that the hearing would be public, board members would testify, and Peterson could call witnesses in his defense. He would also have the right to attend the hearing.

While serving his 38-year sentence for murder at the Menard Correctional Center, Peterson’s pension checks have been given over to his adult son, Stephen, who allegedly has been using the funds to raise Lacy and Anthony Peterson, the young children of Stacy (Cales) Peterson, who went missing in the Fall of 2007 and is presumed dead (at the hands of her husband).

Stephen Peterson lost his job as a police officer for the Village of Oak Brook in 2011 when it was determined that he used poor judgement and obstructed an investigation when he agreed to receive money and guns from his father in the days after Stacy Peterson went missing.

Bolingbrook Police Pension Board attorney Richard Reimer says, “The pension board will schedule a special meeting to decide whether or not to pursue that hearing. Reimer expects that to occur in “the next couple of weeks.” He also indicated that if the hearing does occur, Peterson will most likely attend via video-conference, rather than being transported to Bolingbrook.

Peterson’s attorney, Steve Greenberg, has pooh-poohed the idea of his client losing his pension, stating, “There is absolutely no basis in law or fact. This is simply the flavor de jour to pile on Drew. At some point, I hope, they will start applying the same laws that apply to everyone else to Drew Peterson, and make it a fair fight.

Kathleen Savio’s sister told the Tribune, “As a police officer, you’re supposed to serve and protect. He didn’t protect. He used his law-enforcement skills and knowledge to go out and murder my sister. If you do the crime, you should pay the full price. There shouldn’t be any exceptions.

Meanwhile Naperville pastor, Neil Schori, who testified at Peterson’s murder trial to incriminating statements told to him by Stacy Peterson, is afraid that Stacy’s children would suffer if their father was stripped of his pension. He tweeted:

In other news, Joel Brodsky appears to have abandoned his defamation lawsuit against former co-counsel, Steve Grenberg, Stacy St. Clair (Chicago Tribune), and Joe Hosey (AOL Patch). Back in September Greenberg tweeted that Brodsky had to withdraw the complaint because of errors in the filing. Joel Brodsky says that he has dropped the suit for now because of the ill health of the attorney representing him. The complaint was filed by Walter Maksym, who was reprimanded in 2011 for filing a bizarre and nonsensical brief.

Stephen Peterson loses yet another attempt to get his job back

stephenIf you’ve been following the Drew Peterson case, then you’ll recall that his police officer son, Stephen Peterson, was fired from the Oak Brook police department in 2011 after it was revealed that he had accepted guns from his father in order to avoid their being confiscated during the investigation of the disappearance of Stacy Peterson.

Ever since that decision, Peterson, 34, has been fighting the loss of his position, appealing first to the Police and Fire Commission, then filing a $10 million Federal law suit which was tossed out. In March of last year another suit was rejected by the circuit court.

Now, in a unanimous decision written by Justice Ann Jorgensen, the Illinois Second Appellate District has upheld the decision of the circuit court.

“No one disputes that Stephen was, at least in some respects, cooperative (with the early investigation),” Jorgensen wrote. “He answered questions when asked, disclosed information about the last-minute will, and testified for the State in the grand jury proceedings. However, no amount of cooperation can overcome the poor judgment Stephen demonstrated in accepting the weapons and money from Drew, in failing to disclose the acceptance of those items until asked, and in continuing to insist that he did nothing wrong.

Maybe it’s time to look for some other form of employment.

Meanwhile, we are still awaiting the appeal of Drew Peterson’s 2012 conviction in the murder of his third wife, Kathleen Savio. Back in July, Peterson’s attorneys indicated that an appeal was to be filed within thirty days.

drews-advice

Apparently, Peterson is passing the time by playing life coach and handing out relationship advice to his female pen pals via prison correspondence.

Read more at the Tribune.
Read the Appellate Court’s decision.
Listen to the oral arguments of the appeal (December 2, 20132).

Four years since Drew Peterson’s arrest for murder. What has changed?

another new mugLast Tuesday marked four years since Drew Peterson was arrested and charged with the murder of his third wife, Kathleen Savio. So, what has transpired since then?

Trial Status

Today: Jury selection for Drew Peterson’s trial began on July 23, 2012. Opening statements began on July 31st and the first witness was also called that day. Testimony continued through August 30. Closing arguments were heard on September 4 and jury deliberations began. On September 6, after two days and 14 hours of deliberations, the jury found Drew Peterson guilty in the first degree of murdering Kathleen Savio. On February 21st Drew Peterson was sentenced to 38 years in prison, minus the four years he spent in jail awaiting trial. Peterson was moved from the Will County Adult Detention Center, where he had been living since his arrest, to Stateville Prison and then was transferred shortly thereafter to Pontiac Prison and then Menard Correctional Facility. The City of Bolingbrook is reviewing the status of Peterson’s $79,000/year pension to see if it can be revoked.

Legal Representation

Today: Immediately after Peterson’s murder conviction, his defense team began to publicly point fingers and blame each other for losing the case. Paving the way for an appeal based on ineffective assistance of counsel, Joel Brodsky first got in Drew’s ear and was able to get Steven Greenberg fired from the defense team. But by October, Greenberg had spoken to Drew and was back on the team. Soon after, a team of three attorneys who had not represented Peterson in the murder trial filed a motion of ineffective assistance against Joel Brodsky. After much public and private name calling, letter writing, and motion filingJoel Brodsky withdrew from Peterson’s defense. He then filed a defamation suit against Steve Greenberg, two media outlets and specific reporters. Attorney David Peilet of Clarendon Hills and John Heiderscheidt joined the defense team. At a post-sentencing hearing, Judge Edward Burmila said that he was “shocked” at comments Brodsky had made on TV regarding his representation of Drew Peterson and had a transcript of the hearing sent to the ARDC. In March of 2013, the rest of Peterson’s defense team announced that they were stepping aside and turning over the appellate phase of Peterson’s defense to the state public defender’s office.

One year ago: In September, Attorney Walter Maksym was asked to “step aside” from the legal team after he was criticized by the federal appeals court for filing “unintelligible” court papers that were “riddled with errors”. As the case neared trial, it was announced that Atty Joe Lopez would be presenting closing arguments.

Two years ago: After months of rumors of arguing and even a physical incident, Reem Odeh left the partnership and withdrew from the Peterson defense team in September 2010. In February of 2011, Lisa Lopez, wife of Joe Lopez, assisted with the oral arguments regarding the hearsay decision before the Appellate court, which were presented by Steven Greenberg.

Three years ago: Andrew Abood and George Lenard withdrew from the case in April of 2010, citing irreconcilable differences with Joel Brodsky. John Paul Carroll had a complaint filed against him in September and appears to have left the case. Attorneys from Brodsky & Odeh, Steven A. Greenberg and Associates, Law Offices of Meczyk Goldberg, Joseph R. Lopez, P.C., and Walter P. Maksym Jr. then made up the “Seven Samurai” representing Peterson in court.

Four years ago: Brodsky & Odeh, Abood Law, and John Paul Carroll represented Drew Peterson. George D. Lenard joined the case in December of 2009.

Media Exposure

Today: Drew Peterson was able to address the court and the public with a statement at his sentencing hearing. Rather than expressing remorse, he shouted out “I did not kill Kathleen” and then issued a long self-pitying rant.

One year ago: The Sun-Times continued to shill for Peterson. On April 17 they featured a sympathetic story and cover photo of Drew Peterson after the state won their appeal to get more evidence admitted to his trial for murder.

Two years ago: Despite the gag order prohibiting interviews, Peterson spent 2011 writing letters and statements that were provided to the media, in particular to gossip columnist for the Chicago Sun Times, Michael Sneed.

Three years ago: Drew was prohibited from giving interviews to the press.

Four years ago: Drew’s last interview was given over the phone to a WLS radio show host, Eric Mancow Muller, from jail on May 27, 2009. He also gave one other in-jail phone interview on May 15, to Matt Lauer of the Today show.

Judges

Today: Judge Burmila presided over Peterson’s trial and sentencing.

One year ago: On May 4, 2012, Judge Edward Burmilla was assigned to the case.

Two years ago: Judge Stephen White retired in October 2010.

Three years ago: Judge Stephen White presided over the case.

Four years ago: Judge Richard Schoenstedt was first assigned to the case; then Judge Carla Alessio-Policandriotes and finally Judge Stephen White. Will County Chief Judge Gerald Kinney made the new appointments. Judge Daniel J. Rozak set Peterson’s bond.

Hearsay Evidence

Today: The defense continued to file motions to bar as  much of the hearsay evidence as possible leading up to Peterson’s trial. They were also able to challenge each piece of hearsay evidence as it was introduced at trial and were able to keep out more in that way. At trial Kathleen Savio’s sisters and some friends were allowed to testify to statements she had made to them about fearing Drew Peterson would kill her. Pastor Neil Schori was only allowed to testify to what Stacy had told him alone. The discussions he had with Drew and Stacy in their home were deemed inadmissible. Scott Rossetto’s testimony was also deemed unreliable after the prosecution made some errors with the dates and he didn’t get to take the stand. Although the defense had fought to keep out the testimony of Attorney Harry Smith, whom Stacy Peterson had called with questions about a possible divorce, eventually it was Joel Brodsky who called him to the stand in an attempt to impeach Stacy’s words to Neil Schori. Smith testified that Stacy had asked if she could get more money out of Drew if she threatened to tell “how” he had killed Kathleen Savio. Many believe this to be the evidence that cinched the conviction. A final breakdown of witnesses shows that more than 85% of the evidence presented at Drew Peterson’s trial was physical, forensic and circumstantial. Less than 15% was hearsay. Although media reports were quick to cite “Drew’s Law” as being a factor in the introduction of hearsay to Peterson’s trial, those reports were erroneous as the state had earlier asked the appellate court to reconsider Judge White’s hearsay rulings under the common law rules of forfeiture and they agreed.

One year ago: After the appellate court did not reconsider the barred hearsay statements due to a missed deadline, the State appealed to the Illinois Supreme Court which decided that the appellate court should consider the evidence on its merits. In April the appellate court reversed Judge White’s decision and decided that the hearsay statements were reliable and admissible in court. Peterson’s defense announced that they would not appeal and wanted instead to go to trial.

Two years ago: The judge’s decision regarding the hearsay statements was leaked in July 2010, revealing that possibly fewer than five of the 15 statements being considered were to be allowed. This decision was appealed by the prosecution. During February oral arguments before the appellate justices, States Attorney Jim Glasgow was asked what he now wanted to “hang” his argument on. Glasgow said that he chose “804 (b)” or, in other words the common law doctrine that is part of the Illinois Rules of Evidence (rather than the so-called “Hearsay Law”).

Three years ago: In October 2009, Peterson’s defense lost a motion to declare the act unconstitutional. Hearsay evidence and witnesses were heard during hearings in January 2010.

Four years ago: The Hearsay Statue (Drew;s Law) was passed into legislation November, 2008

Peterson Family

Today: In November 2007, a Federal judge threw out Stephen Peterson’s lawsuit against the Village of Oakbrook and Thomas Sheahan. Peterson then went back to Illinois Circuit court to try to get back his job, but lost that complaint in March of 2013.
Kathleen Savio’s two sons, Thomas and Kristopher are in college. Thomas Peterson testified on his father’s behalf towards the end of his trial.

One year ago: Stephen Peterson was appealing his dismissal and filed a Federal lawsuit in July 2011.

Two years ago: In August 2009, Stephen Peterson was suspended for accepting and hiding weapons for his father, shortly after the disappearance of Stacy Peterson. In February 2010, Peterson was fired from Oak Brook Police Force and appealed his dismissal.  Thomas Peterson wrote a letter and made a filing asking to be removed from the Savio family’s civil suit against Drew Peterson. This has not been granted yet. Tom Peterson was chosen as valedictorian of his graduating class.

Four years ago: Drew’s four youngest children were left in the care of their step-brother, Oak Brook Police Officer, Stephen Peterson.

Savio Family

Today: Sue Savio has continued to make appearances to speak out about her sister and against domestic violence. Anna Savio Doman and Henry Savio are still pursuing a wrongful death suit against Drew Peterson.

Cales Family

Today: Cassandra Cales continues to search for her sister.

Drew’s Love Life

Today: Drew Peterson continues to enjoy correspondence with numerous pen pals.

One year ago: Gossip columnist Michael Sneed reported that Peterson had over 20 pen pals (male and female), at least four of whom contributed to his funds at the commissary so that he could enjoy snacks while he awaited trial.

Two years ago: In August 2010 we heard that Christina Raines was engaged to a new man. In February 2011 we obtained a photo of Chrissy with her fiancé. In April 2011, an old acquaintance of Drew’s, Diana Grandel, released some letters from Drew in which he made sexual comments to her and offered Stacy’s clothing to her.

Three years ago: In January Raines posted a status update on her Facebook page stating, “I met someone who i fell in love with and very happy with. I think i just about gave up on drew with all his lies i dont even really visit him anymore.” and then, “But his kids i love dearly and still visit with them they are good kids”

Four years ago: Christina Raines was at the house that Drew and Stacy Peterson shared at the time or his arrest and was also taken into custody. She removed her belongings from his home shortly afterwards. Raines is on the list to visit Drew in jail.

Stunts

Today: All quiet on the part of Drew Peterson. His legal team seems to have picked up the torch as far as media shenanigans. Restaurateur Jeff Ruby attended Drew Peterson’s trial and was charged with contempt when he reportedly mouthed “Fuck you” at Peterson. Ruby went on to offer a $100,000 reward for information leading to the recovery of Stacy Peterson’s remains.

One year ago: Besides frequent mundane snippets in the gossip columns about Peterson’s life in prison, all has been quiet.

Two years ago: While Drew’s bids for attention were mostly curtailed due to his detention, his lawyer and PR people continued to pepper the news with updates and letters from him detailing everything from his life in jail to his opinions about the legal decisions regarding his children. Kathleen’s oldest son, Tom, was the subject of news stories and wrote his own letters to the press in support of his father.

Three years ago: Soon after Drew’s arrest he attempted to have his motorcycle auctioned off on eBay. He was asking for $50,000 and offered to apply a decal with his signature on the bike. eBay removed the auction for violation of its “murderabilia” rules.

Four years ago: At the time Drew was arrested, he was preparing to fly out to the Bunny Ranch Brothel in Reno, Nevada, to see if he would be a good fit as head of security there.

Stacy Peterson

Today: Areas of Hammel Woods in Shorewood were searched for five days in November 2012, utilizing the FBI and cadaver dogs. Some officials stated that it was a training mission, while others told the press that they were indeed looking for the remains of Stacy Peterson. Nothing was found.

One year ago: Airings of the movie, “Drew Peterson: Untouchable” brought about some new tips and offers of assistance in regards to the search for Stacy Peterson.

Two years ago: In August 2010, based on a tip, searches for Stacy’s remains took place near Peoria. No evidence was found.

Three years ago: Still missing with no sightings or communication from her.

Four years ago: Missing. No communication from her since October 28, 2007. Searches were ongoing.

Firing of Stephen Peterson is upheld by circuit court – read the Judge’s decision

Stephen Peterson

Stephen Peterson

Today, Judge Terence M. Sheen rejected an appeal by Stephen Peterson and decided to uphold the Police and Fire Commission’s decision to fire him from the Oak Brook Police Department.

Peterson was fired in 2010 after he testified at Grand Jury about receiving guns and money from his father, Drew Peterson, shortly after Stacy Peterson went missing, effectively interfering with an ongoing investigation.

The younger Peterson argued that guns were often lent between police officers and that he was unaware of an investigation at the time that he accepted the guns from Drew Peterson.

But, in truth the story of Stacy Peterson’s disappearance was already on the news when the gun hand off happened on October 30, 2007, and even Stephen testified that he had accepted the guns because they were his father’s “favorites” and that Sergeant Peterson didn’t want them to be damaged when they were seized, which indicated that they were both aware of an ongoing investigation.

Judge Sheen’s decision concludes that:

“In this case, it was in no way arbitrary or unreasonable for the Board to conclude that Officer Peterson exhibited conduct incompatible with continued service as a police officer. Therefore, this Court finds that Officer Peterson’s conduct, when viewed in its entirety, warrants the sanction of discharge.”

Peterson had already appealed the decision of the commission but it was denied. He also filed a federal law suit which was dismissed in November of 2012.

Today’s decision:

Peterson has indicated that he will appeal this decision.

Read more at the Chicago Tribune

Drew Peterson may lose his $79k pension

Drew Peterson's mugshot February, 2013

Drew Peterson’s mugshot February, 2013


The Bolingbrook pension board has hired an outside lawyer to review the transcripts from Drew Peterson’s murder trial to determine whether or not the convicted killer should lose his pension.

In September of last year, it was reported that it was possible he could lose his $79,000 annual pension from the Bolingbrook Police Department as a result of the guilty verdict.

Under state law governing public employee pensions, a local pension board could revoke Peterson’s pension if it determines he used his police powers or even his skills as a veteran officer in the 2004 murder of his third wife, Kathleen Savio.

Shortly after his conviction Peterson’s then attorney, Joel Brodsky, was confident that Drew would be keeping his pension, saying:

“His pension is safe…That money goes to his kids now anyway, even though I’m sure Jim Glasgow would like to see them thrown out in the street. It’s not like the trial. You would have to present actual evidence to the pension board and they don’t have that.”

It appears that now that Peterson has been sentenced, the city is going to see if that evidence exists.

Peterson’s adult son, Stephen Peterson, currently has power of attorney over his father’s affairs. He has also been taking care of his half-siblings, Anthony and Lacy, who are the children of his father and Stacy Peterson, who has been missing since October 2007.

Stacy Peterson has not yet been declared dead so her children do not collect Social Security benefits on her behalf.

Read more at the Chicago Tribune

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Stephen Peterson loses his $10 million federal lawsuit

Today marks another court loss for the Drew Peterson family. The wrongful termination suit filed in July 2011 by Drew Peterson’s son, Stephen Peterson, was thrown out of court when a federal judge sided with the Village of Oak Brook who fired him for interfering with an investigation.

Stephen Peterson was fired from the force in February of 2011, after his testimony at Grand Jury revealed that he had voluntarily accepted guns from his father in order to avoid their being confiscated during the investigation of the disappearance of Stacy Peterson.

Both Stephen and his father Drew Peterson have claimed that the officer was unfairly targeted because of his relationship to the murder defendant (now convicted of killing his third wife, Kathleen Savio), although the younger Peterson’s complaint stated that Sheahan’s animosity towards Peterson began even before Stacy’s disappearance. No explanation is offered for the alleged dislike.

Here’s the Judge’s opinion:

Peterson’s complaint:

The charges against Stephen Peterson that ultimately led to his firing:

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