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A federal judge weighing evidence in a lawsuit filed by former police sergeant Dan Harder has ruled that there is nothing to tie the mayor of Forest Park to Harder’s claim that he’s the victim of a political conspiracy.

The July 18 ruling by U.S. District Court Judge James Moran dismisses Mayor Anthony Calderone as a defendant in the case. According to Harder’s claim, the push to fire Harder from the police department originated with Calderone.

Harder’s attorney, Jeanine Stevens, said her client’s suit still has merit. Although the person alleged to have spurred the retaliation against Harder cannot be held personally responsible, Stevens said the mayor will still play a crucial role in the case.

“He doesn’t need to be a defendant to prove that he was part of this collusion to get rid of Dan,” Stevens said of Calderone. “He was relatively careful to insulate himself.”

Stevens said she has no plans to appeal the judge’s ruling. Should the case go to trial, as Harder has requested, the mayor would still be called to testify, Stevens said.

Calderone did not immediately respond to requests for an interview today and his attorney could not be reached for comment.

Harder is suing the municipality for firing him in 2007. He claims the dismissal was directed by Calderone in retaliation for having filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against the village and a former police chief.

Earlier this year, the same judge ruled that Harder’s firing was “arbitrary and unreasonable” and ordered the village to reinstate him. That opinion has been appealed to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Along with the village, Lt. Michael Cody, Police Chief Jim Ryan and the mayor’s administrative assistant, Sally Cody, are named as defendants in the case.

For complete coverage of the judge’s ruling, see the July 30 print edition of Forest Park Review or check back at forestparkreview.com.