Echoing much of the mayor’s testimony two weeks ago, Lt. Steve Johnsen outlined the penalties he and the mayor agreed would be imposed against him following an internal investigation into Johnsen’s handling of an arrest in 2005.
Johnsen’s testimony on Nov. 8 was the latest in an evidentiary proceeding before the Fire and Police Commission. Testimony dealt specifically with Johnsen’s motion to dismiss charges filed by Chief Jim Ryan, alleging he mishandled the investigation leading to the arrest of an area business owner in July of last year.
Ryan is asking the commission to terminate Johnsen.
Village Administrator Mike Sturino offered testimony that seemed to support Johnsen’s claim that the lieutenant was already punished and therefore can not be terminated, however, Sturino said the man Johnsen negotiated the arrangement with was in no position to do so.
“The chief has the sole authority to impose discipline, according to the Illinois Municipal Code,” Sturino said. “I don’t believe the mayor can impose discipline upon an officer. I believe only the chief can impose discipline.”
Both Johnsen and Mayor Anthony Calderone testified to their agreement that Johnsen would give up 10 vacation days and receive a letter of reprimand in his personnel file. Attorneys in the case are now attempting to prove whether those sanctions were ever imposed, and if so whether Calderone acted within his authority.
Ryan’s administrative assistant, Dora Murphy, is responsible for logging all the officers’ vacation time. In testifying before the commission, Murphy said she had no knowledge of the agreement between Calderone and Johnsen.
Murphy said she showed Johnsen her records on Aug. 8 indicating the original vacation schedule he had handed in at the beginning of the year.
“He told me that is not correct,” Murphy said. “When he left he said that is not right.”
Murphy testified that if an officer is required to give up vacation days it is the chief and not the officer, who usually picks which vacation days will be relinquished.
According to Johnsen, the agreement between he and Calderone was orchestrated in part by Commissioner Tim Gillian. Gillian is the godfather of one of Johnsen’s children, said last March he would talk to Calderone about the issue, Johnsen said.
Johnsen and Calderon met on May 3 at the offices of Illinois Alarm, Calderone’s business, according to Johnsen. Johnsen said he talked privately with Calderone for about 45 minutes and then shook hands twice with the mayor after reaching an agreement.
“When I was walking out the door he hugged me,” Johnsen said.
When Johnsen returned to work on May 8 he said he met with Calderone and Ryan. The officer said he requested that Sturino, not Ryan, write the letter of reprimand.
Johnsen said he never looked into his file to see if a letter of reprimand was ever written. Neither Johnsen nor Ryan have produced any evidence of this letter.
During Sturino’s brief testimony at the Nov. 8 hearing, the village administrator said that when Johnsen returned to work he thought the matter had been resolved.
“I understood there was a resolution of the dispute with Lt. Johnsen,” Sturino said. “I believe it was Mayor Calderone who told me that.”
The hearing on the motion will resume Nov. 15 at 6:30 p.m. at village hall. This is expected to be the final day of hearings on Johnsen’s motion to dismiss.
Calderone and Ryan are expected to testify again.