Photographs now an issue in ex-officer's suit

Published: 2/13/2008 12:17 AM

The gloves have come off in the Oak Brook police department battle.

So too, apparently, have the clothes.

The latest development revealed in court documents is the existence of a dispute between former police Sgt. Randy Mucha and a former officer over "extremely sensitive photographs" that were subpoenaed as part of two lawsuits.

At least one of the photographs was of a half-naked woman in an Oak Brook police uniform.

The bare facts came out just days after Oak Brook's insurance company agreed to pay $700,000 to settle claims by two officers that Mucha and other police officials had violated the officers' First Amendment rights by harassing them for speaking out about the replacement of the village's police chief. Former officer Donald Malec and current officer Martin Zelisko will split the $700,000.

The village also paid out $2 million to settle claims by two Oak Brook residents -- Casey and Frances Gaik -- alleging similar harassment by Mucha and other police officials for their objections to the hiring of a new police chief.

Mucha has his own lawsuit pending against the village, alleging violation of his rights for firing him in July after the alleged harassment came to light.

Mucha and his attorneys filed a motion last week asking that a federal judge order the return of the pictures, which were subpoenaed as part of the contents of Mucha's computer drives.

Later, at least one photo was printed out and presented to Mucha during an April administrative hearing, his lawyers wrote.

Mucha's attorneys contended the picture files were supposed to be protected by court order, and that they were inappropriately turned over to Oak Brook Police Chief Thomas Sheahan by Malec.

"Randy Mucha intentionally failed to advise this court that the photographs in question were turned over to the Chief of Police … as part of an … investigation into Randy Mucha's activities and his posting of photographs on the Internet of nude or semi-nude women … at least one of whom was partially clad in an Oak Brook police officer's uniform," responded Malec's lawyers.

They also alleged the photographs were not under the protection of a court order.

Mucha's attorneys had asked U.S. District Court Judge James Zagel to sanction Malec, but no ruling was made at a court hearing Tuesday.