Reporting Bob Roberts
OAK BROOK, Ill. (WBBM) - Oak Brook’s police chief told the suburb’s fire and police commission Thursday night that he wants Drew Peterson’s son Stephen off the force.
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Peterson, in turn, accused Chief Thomas Sheahan of singling him out because of his father, not his actions.
The commission put off a ruling until its next meeting, Jan. 10.
Sheahan testified that Peterson has shown “consistent disregard” for departmental rules. And he accused Peterson of obstructing the state police investigation into the disappearance of his father’s fourth wife, Stacy, because he did not immediately tell state police that his father had given him three guns for safekeeping and wrote him checks totaling $236,800.
“In my own opinion, if it was a toaster, it’s a piece of evidence and he should have cooperated with state police,” Sheahan said.
Peterson took the stand in his own defense, and again said that he believed he cooperated fully, answered all questions posed by state police and agreed immediately to hand over the guns — which state police allowed him to keep for another day.
He said that when his father gave him the guns he said he did so out of concern that they could be damaged during execution of a search warrant, and said the money was intended for the care of the family’s four youngest children.
Peterson repeatedly denied that he took the guns in order to hide them from state police.
Stephen Peterson testified Nov. 30 that his father had told him that Stacy had left him for another man with the deed to the couple’s Bolingbrook home and $25,000 in cash but expected her to return.
He said he had no reason to suspect at the time that his father would become the focus of a “media frenzy.”
The elder Peterson has never been charged in connection with Stacy’s disappearance, but is being held in the Will County Jail on $20 million bond awaiting trial on a murder charge stemming from the 2004 drowning death of his third wife, Kathleen Savio.
One of the guns Drew Peterson gave his son for safekeeping, an ArmaLite AR-15 semi-automatic rifle with a cut-down barrel that the elder Peterson used in conjunction with his SWAT duties on the Bolingbrook police department, is illegal in Illinois.
Will County prosecutors charged Drew Peterson with possession of an illegal gun in 2008, but a judge dismissed the case this fall, citing a federal law governing possession of guns by law enforcement personnel. The departmental charges facing Stephen Peterson still accuse him of possessing an illegal weapon. Sheahan testified that Peterson did not possess it for any law-enforcement purpose, but Peterson’s attorney, Tamara Cummings, said the federal law trumps both state law and the Oak Brook rule.
The younger Peterson also is accused of ignoring a department rule requiring him to remain quiet about the internal affairs investigation into his actions. Peterson denies saying anything except telling those who inquired that he had been suspended, something Sheahan himself told the media.