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

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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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Stephen Peterson’s complaint against former police chief Thomas Sheahan, et al

Stephen Peterson


Ahead of a pending court date in Circuit Court for a judicial review of the decision that cost him his job, Drew Peterson’s son filed a multimillion-dollar federal lawsuit accusing Oak Brook’s former police chief of conspiring with another official to boot him from the Oak Brook police force.

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, although the complaint states that Sheahan’s animosity towards Peterson began even before Stacy’s disappearance. No explanation is offered for the alleged dislike.

You can read the new complaint below:

If you need a refresher, here are the charges against Stephen Peterson that ultimately led to his firing:

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Drew Peterson and Stephen Peterson remember gun hand-off differently


 
On Saturday, Drew Peterson‘s son, Stephen Peterson, was fired from his job at the Oak Brook Police Department for accepting weapons from his father in the days following the disappearance of Stacy Peterson and in so doing, obstructing the investigation.

Today’s Herald News printed some comments from Drew Peterson taken from an email that Drew Peterson’s lawyer, Joel Brodsky, sent to them. Drew, reportedly “angry” over his son’s firing attempted to set the record straight as per his recollections of the exchange:

When I gave Steve my guns there was no investigation to impede,” Peterson said. “They were my favorite guns, and I was going to give them to Steve when I retired anyway. I only gave him three of the dozen or so guns I owned, and I kept most of my guns in my house and the police confiscated them all, so how could giving him those three guns impede anything?”

Interesting version of the facts, especially if one recalls that Stephen testified at his own hearing to save his job that he had received the guns because they were his fathers favorites and that he was worried they might be damaged when they were seized by law enforcement. Would it help if you heard Stephen say this with your own ears? Check out the video at the top of this post.

By the way, I realize that October 2007 was a long time ago, and maybe Drew has a hard time remembering the actual sequence of events surrounding the disappearance of his wife, but luckily the Internet has an uncanny ability to store information. According to online transcripts of the Nancy Grace show, there was an investigation as early as October 30—two days after Stacy disappeared:

Aired October 30, 2007 – 20:00:00 ET

GRACE: With that, I agree. Everybody, we`re taking your calls live, but I want to tell you about a police sergeant`s wife gone missing. Maybe you can help. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Investigators are searching for any clues in the whereabouts of 23-year-old Stacy Peterson of Bolingbrook. She was last heard from on Sunday morning when she was supposed to do some painting at a friend`s house but never showed up. State police are handling the investigation, but Bolingbrook police are also talking to family and friends. Right now they say there are no signs of foul play.

Yes, there was an investigation at the time of the gun transfer.

Even a lay person would know that law enforcement was going to be interested in in examining all of the weapons that Drew Peterson kept in his house. Both Drew Peterson and Stephen Peterson were police officers. They both knew that it would be an obstruction of justice to remove those guns. Is the public really supposed to believe that either of them are so ignorant of police protocol? If they are — then all the better that they are both off the force.

Read story at the Herald News
Decision rendered in Officer Peterson Discipline Matter

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Drew Peterson’s gun charge dismissal won’t be appealed

The Chicago Tribune has reported that prosecutors have decided not to appeal Judge Richard Schoenstadt‘s decision to dismiss the weapons charges against Drew Peterson.

After becoming the only suspect in the disappearance of his wife, Stacy Peterson, three years ago, Peterson’s home was searched and his weapons confiscated. He appealed successfully to have his confiscated weapons returned, but it was determined that one weapon, a Colt AR-15 had an illegal 11½-inch barrel and that led to his arrest on the illegal weapons charges.

Drew Peterson remains in jail awaiting trial for the murder of this third wife, Kathleen Savio.

Chicago Tribune Story

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Drew Peterson back in court today on weapons charges


In classic Drew Peterson PR style, another letter from Drew was distributed to the media outlets coinciding with a court date. The letter was yet another invitation to a Pity Party for Drew Peterson, this time claiming that law enforcement and the media were targeting his children in order to harm Peterson.

Last month Drew’s son Stephen Peterson was suspended from his job as a police officer in Oak Brook, after testifying that he accepted the illegal weapon from his father shortly after Stacy Peterson went missing. He explained that the gun was among “his favorites, and he didn’t want anything to happen to them.”

After arriving late in court today, Drew Peterson’s attorneys attempted to argue constitutional issues as they relate to the charges that Peterson possessed an illegally modified firearm.  According to reporter Joe Hosey who was tweeting from the courthouse, at least one member of the team expressed he was “thoroughly confused” during proceedings. Judge Richard Schoenstedt set the date of October 1st for handing down his decision.

We’ll update as we learn more throughout the day. Make sure to check the comments thread for the latest news.

We’re following Joe Hosey as he tweets from the courthouse.

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Peterson’s defense team plays offense

Joliet, IL –

Drew Peterson’s defense lawyers are hoping to prove their client has been treated unfairly in an attempt to get him acquitted of two felony weapons violations.

On Wednesday, attorneys Joel Brodsky and Andrew Abood asked Will County Judge Richard Schoenstedt to force the state to turn over all documents relating to the decision to arrest Peterson for the charges, which allege that Peterson owned an illegal assault rifle that was too short under state law. The attorneys suspect the documents could help them prove that the state used “vindictive and selective” prosecution in their case against Peterson, which could warrant an acquittal.

The AR-15 rifle was one of nearly a dozen guns seized from Peterson’s home last November as part of the investigation into the Oct. 28, 2007 disappearance of Peterson’s fourth wife Stacy, 23. Peterson, 54, is the sole suspect in the disappearance, which police are calling a possible homicide. Police are also investigating the March 2004 drowning of Peterson’s third wife Kathleen Savio, which was recently ruled a homicide. They have not named a suspect.
Brodsky has said the weapon was Peterson’s secondary duty weapon as a SWAT team member and therefore should be exempt from state gun laws.

The seizure set off a months-long legal battle over whether the state had a right to keep the weapons indefinitely. Brodsky said the timeline of events leading up to Peterson’s arrest is sufficiently suspicious to warrant further investigation. In February, Schoenstedt ordered the state to return all firearms to Peterson, provided he maintained his Firearm Owner’s Identification card. The next day, state police revoked the card.

Peterson then asked the court to allow him to transfer all of his weapons to his son Stephen, an Oak Brook police officer. In anticipation of the ruling, police arrested Peterson May 21 for possession of an illegal firearm. The next day, Schoenstedt ordered the guns be handed over to Stephen Peterson.

The timing of the FOID revocation and the arrest indicate the state was vindictive in its case, Brodsky argued.

“This timeline certainly lends more than sufficient evidence that the reason for (the charges) is to punish (Peterson) for exercising his constitutional rights to possess firearms,” Brodsky said.

Brodsky said the defense team has also discovered several other Bolingbrook police officers who admitted to once or currently owning weapons that do not comply with state law. If true, Brodsky said the state is selectively prosecuting his client while ignoring others who are breaking the law.

Assistant State’s Atty. Dede Osterberger called the request for documents a “fishing expedition” and an attempt to obtain privileged information.

Schoenstedt said he would rule on the motion at a final hearing scheduled for Nov. 20. Regardless of his ruling, he suggested the prosecution begin preparing the files the defense requested to speed up the process in the event he grants the motion.

A trial date has been set for Dec. 8, with jury selection beginning Dec. 5.