CHICAGO (CN) – The son of accused murderer Drew Peterson – who followed his father into the Oak Brook police force – sued the village, claiming its former police chief conspired to fire him and spread a rumor that he had rehearsed an alibi for his father.
Stephen Peterson sued former Police Chief Thomas Sheahan, the Village of Oak Brook and the chairman of the village’s Board of Fire and Police Commissioners, Frederick Cappeta, in Federal Court.
Stephen Peterson claims Sheahan conspired to fire him, saying, “I will bankrupt him. I will chop off his balls.”
Stephen Peterson became a police officer for Oak Brook in 2004. Three years later, his father and former sergeant, Drew Peterson, came under investigation when his fourth wife, Stacy Peterson, went missing, according to the complaint.
Drew Peterson is being held on charges of murdering his third wife, Kathleen Savio. His trial is scheduled to begin this month.
According to his son’s complaint: “Officer Peterson was subpoenaed to give testimony before the Will County Grand Jury concerning that investigation [of Stacy Peterson’s disappearance] on a day when he was on duty for the Village of Oak Brook, Illinois Police Department.
“Because he was on active duty for the Village of Oak Brook, Illinois Police
Department on that date, Officer Peterson advised his supervisor, Sergeant Casey Cavello and received permission to take his Oak Brook Police Department squad car and appear before the Will County Grand Jury in police uniform.
“There was wide television coverage as the Grand Jury Proceedings were progressing, and Officer Peterson was shown going in and out of the Will County Court Building in police uniform.
“Chief Sheahan was livid about the fact that Officer Peterson was shown on television to be in his Oak Brook police uniform and driving an Oak Brook squad car.”
Peterson claims Sheahan pressed charges against him for appearing in uniform on personal business, and tried to suspend him for 15 days, a penalty that was reduced to four days.
“Chief Sheahan was livid about the reduction in that discipline and made it very clear to other members of the Oak Brook Police Department command,” the complaint states.
“Chief Sheehan, fully knowing it was not true, started to spread false rumors throughout the Police Department of the Village of Oak Brook that Drew Peterson, Officer Peterson, and Oak Brook Police Department Sergeant Randy Mucha had been in a local bar discussing, planning, and rehearsing an alibi for their whereabouts on the night that Drew Peterson’s wife went missing.
“Geraldo Rivera reported about the rehearsed alibi account on his nationally syndicated television show ‘Geraldo at Large.’
“State’s Attorney Glasgow had conducted an investigation and no one would confirm hearing this conversation about rehearsing an alibi,” according to the complaint.
A few weeks later, Drew Peterson was brought up on gun charges in Will County. His son says he testified for the prosecution that his father had given him three guns for safekeeping.
“Chief Sheahan contacted State’s Attorney Glasgow and sought the arrest of Officer Peterson for official misconduct on the basis of his testimony,” the complaint states.
“When State’s Attorney Glasgow refused to arrest Officer Peterson because ‘he didn’t do anything wrong,’ Chief Sheahan could barely control his anger. …
“Chief Sheahan proclaimed, ‘He may get his job back in the next few years, but in the interim he will lose his house, his wife will leave him, and his dog will be dead.’
“In a fit of anger, Chief Sheahan added, ‘I will bankrupt him. I will chop off his balls.'”
Stephen Peterson claims that “even before the notoriety of the Drew Peterson case, Chief Sheahan had made it very clear to other members of the Oak Brook Police Department command of his dislike for Officer Peterson and his intent to have him removed from the department in any way he could.
“Chief Sheahan ordered members of his command to interview and harass Officer Peterson’s former wife and his current girlfriend ‘in order to make his life a living hell’ and ‘to get him to just resign.’
“Members of his command refused that order claiming, ‘Those ladies have nothing to do with this,'” according to the complaint.
Peterson claims the police chief “sent to Officer Peterson’s girlfriend a book entitled ‘How to Live like a Lady: Lessons in Life, Manners, and Style.'”
Peterson says he was fired in February 2011 on false charges, and that “Chief Sheahan and Board Chairman Cappetta, acting in conspiracy together, called into question the good name, reputation, honor, and integrity of Police Officer Peterson and caused him he [sic] ‘stigma plus’ damage.”
Peterson seeks punitive damages of more than $1 million for violations of due process, tortious interference, breach of contract, defamation and slander, and emotional distress.
He is represented by John DeRose, of Hinsdale.
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