(CBS) — The mayor of southwest suburban Willow Springs says he’s cleaning house of bad cops.
Opponents say he’s part of the problem.
For the first time, Mayor Alan Nowaczyk finally speaks out about the firing, retiring or resignations of at least five former police officers, for a variety of allegations including lying under oath and falsifying records.
“It’s disappointing to the residents. However, they have right to know the village is going to continue to protect them in a safe way,” the mayor says.
But the mayor has also been accused of wrongdoing. A Cook County sheriff’s report says the mayor and other officials violated the Whistle Blowers Act when they fired officer Mike Giorgetti.
Georgetti was detailed by Willow Spring to the DEA. He says he blew the whistle on the village for the misuse of federal drug funds and the use of a nearly $300,000 boat.
The village says Giorgetti lied under oath and consistently changed his story after a 2013 accident with an unmarked squad car assigned to his personal use.
A U.S. Department of Justice audit of the funds also raised questions about the boat and how Willow Springs handled $828,762 in equitable sharing money.
It called more than $116,000 spent on 13 barely used vehicles “unnecessary and wasteful,” including two Harley Davidson motorcycles that cost $44,126 and then were upgraded with new wheels, chrome and heated handgrips for another $23,000.
Mayor Nowaczyk says Giorgetti was not dismissed for whistle-blowing. He would not comment on the sheriff’s recommendation that he and other village officials be criminally charged for firing Giorgetti.
The DOJ ordered Willow Springs to return $1 million in drug seizure money because of the questionable purchases.
The mayor would not release the names or specifics of the other officers also fired.
The Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office declined comment.
The Cook County Sheriff’s Department on Wednesday stood by earlier findings:
“The office conducted an extensive and unbiased investigation into a number of allegations and determined there were violations of the Illinois Whistleblower Act. A subsequent Department of Justice audit also substantiated allegations related to the use of asset forfeiture funds.”