Cook County Officers to Collect $2.4 Million in Settlement
Tuesday, February 18, 2014
by Mike Parker
They say they were reprimanded for supporting Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart’s opponent and now 21 Cook County corrections officers are preparing to collect a $2.4 million settlement.
On Wednesday, the Cook County Board is expected to approve the settlement.
Officer Anthony Lordo says what happened has shaken his faith in county law enforcement.
“It’s been unbelievably disheartening to see that something that I believed in with all my heart just gets turned upside down,” said Lordo.
It started with Tom Dart’s successful 2006 primary run for sheriff against officer Richard Remus. Before the election, Remus got public support from 21 members of the department’s elite special operations response team.
Weeks later a member of the sheriff’s command staff, Scott Kurtovich, ordered the unit disbanded, and its members demoted.
The officers sued Kurtovitch and the department charging political retaliation and won in court.
“Sheriff Dart has not disciplined him, has not fired him in violation of his own policy,” said the plaintiff’s attorney Dana Kurtz.
Veteran officer Paul William Castellano is convinced his career is finished because he backed a Dart opponent.
“That ship has sailed for me. I’m done in two and a half years,” said Castellano. “That was career suicide.”
Despite the jury verdict, Dart, through a spokesman, continues to deny all this.
“The suggestion that the sheriff acts in a political way with respect to hiring or movement or transfers or assignments is outrageous,” said Cook County Sheriff spokeswoman Cara Smith.
Dart’s people also say there was evidence that would have won the case if it had been introduced but it was not.
The sheriff also wanted to appeal the jury’s decision but was overruled.