09/03/2012

Former Ill. cop sues, says forced to resign after email hack

The suit argues four officials pressured officer into retiring early in August 2010 after his email was hacked

By Harry Hitzeman 
Chicago Daily Herald

ELGIN, Ill. — A former Elgin Police Department lieutenant has sued the city's police chief and other high-ranking city officials, arguing that he was wrongfully forced to resign based on information that was stolen from his hacked email account.

The , filed by Greg Welter last week in federal court, names as defendants: the city itself, Police Chief Jeff Swoboda, City Manager Sean Stegall, City Corporation Counsel William Cogley, and City Investigator Jim Barnes.

The suit seeks more than $50,000 in damages and a jury trial.

The suit argues that the four pressured Welter into retiring early in August 2010 after Welter's email was hacked into and an anonymous letter was sent to city officials suggesting Welter improperly used his police powers to run license plate searches for personal use.

In the suit, Welter said he was asked by his business partner, Debra Seitz, to run license checks on several cars parked on rental property in Aurora after police there refused to help.

Welter argues that he was pressured to retire early or face a disciplinary hearing that could result in him losing his pension.

The suit argues that the department and city were getting negative publicity from an affair between Welter's wife, Tamara, and Deputy Police Chief Bob Beeter, and officials thought that it would die down if Greg Welter left the department.

The suit argues that Swoboda threatened to charge Greg Welter with misconduct and that Swoboda, Cogley, Barnes and Stegall "concluded that the easiest way to rid the Police Department of Greg Welter would be to pressure Greg Welter to take early retirement whereby the Police Department would avoid a hearing."

Cogley said Wednesday he was aware of the lawsuit but had not been served with it. He noted that Welter has sued the city several times in the past and two suits have been dismissed.

"We acted properly, and I expect we will be vindicated in this case," Cogley said. "This is the fourth lawsuit by the former and apparently disgruntled employee."

Charles Mudd Jr., the attorney representing Welter in the suit, could not be reached for comment.

Last year, Greg Welter and Seitz filed a federal eavesdropping lawsuit against the city, Beeter and Tamara Welter.

That suit argues that Beeter and Tamara Welter hacked into an email account and used information to damage Seitz and Greg Welter's reputations.

The city is seeking to have this suit dismissed and is due next Thursday to present its argument in federal court. Beeter and Tamara Welter were both suspended for 30 days without pay in summer 2010 as a result of their affair.

Tamara Welter remains a sergeant on the force; Beeter was laid off as part of budget cuts. Greg Welter has filed for divorce against Tamara Welter and that case is next due in Kane County court on Friday, records show.

Copyright 2012 Paddock Publications, Inc.

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