Twenty five years ago, Drew Peterson got fired from his job as a cop. Like father like son, his police officer kid got the sack Saturday for his involvement in the old man's trouble over a missing wife.
The three-man Oak Brook fire and police board voted as a bloc to ax Stephen Peterson from the department he worked at for more than six years.
"This court is a kangaroo court, for lack of a better word," said Stephen Peterson's union attorney, Tamara Cummings, as she vowed to fight on for her client's job.
"We've won on appeal three times before and we're going to win this time," Cummings said, referencing the three victories she scored in reducing suspensions Stephen Peterson has received over the years.
Cummings has 35 days to file her appeal in DuPage County court. She says she is ready, since she and Stephen Peterson sort of saw this coming.
"We're not surprised, but we're disappointed," Cummings said.
Stephen Peterson did not comment as he left the brief hearing. He stopped on the way out to hug fellow officers and friends in attendance, and lingered in the parking lot of the Oak Brook Village Hall to chat with his supporters.
Oak Brook Police Chief Thomas Sheahan has been trying to fire Stephen Peterson since August, when he put him on paid suspension pending the outcome of the disciplinary process.
Sheahan charged Stephen Peterson with obstructing investigators, possession of an unlawful weapon, and failing to keep an internal investigation confidential. The board cleared him of the last two allegations but found him guilty of the first one.
According to the board, Stephen Peterson obstructed law enforcement officials by hiding three of his father's guns before the state police could execute a search warrant at Drew Peterson's house, and for neglecting to mention to state agents that he had accepted nearly a quarter million dollars from his father. Drew Peterson feared he would be arrested and gave the money to his son with instructions to use it if that happened.
The state police did indeed head over to Drew Peterson's house with a search warrant on Nov. 1, 2007 to look for any sign of what happened to his fourth wife, Stacy Peterson, who had disappeared only days before.
Drew Peterson knew they were coming, according to the complaint against his son, and smuggled three of the "favorites" from among his gun collection to Stephen Peterson's home in North Aurora. Stephen Peterson proceeded to stash the guns in a spare bedroom and only turned them over after his father snitched him off to the state police.
Stacy Peterson remains missing and the state police have said they suspect Drew Peterson may have had a hand in killing her. That may be, but the state police have yet to do anything along the lines of charging him with harming her.
The state police did arrest Peterson on charges he murdered his previous wife, Kathleen Savio, who was found drowned in a dry bathtub in March 2004. From the time of her death until shortly after Stacy disappeared, the state police insisted Savio was the victim of a freak bathtub accident.
The Stacy Peterson case forced the state police to re-evaluate their performance in the Savio investigation. This second look led to them arresting Drew Peterson in May 2009.
Drew Peterson remains jailed while he awaits trial on the murder charges. His case was before the appellate court earlier this week as prosecutors are attempting to increase the amount of hearsay evidence they can use at trial.
Saturday's decision gave the Peterson family a second man in two generations to have been fired from a police department. In 1985, Drew Peterson was not only fired but also indicted on charges of official misconduct and failure to report a bribe in connection with an unsanctioned undercover investigation he undertook while he was on loan from the Bolingbrook Police Department to the Metropolitan Area Narcotics Squad.
The Bolingbrook Fire and Police found Drew Peterson guilty of those charges, as well as disobedience and conducting a self-assigned investigation.
Drew Peterson's problems in the 1980s started when he revealed to his supervisors that he had embarked on a solo narcotics investigation of Anthony "Bindy" Rock, a convicted cop-killer reputed to have ties to organized crime.
A state police undercover officer was already working on Rock, according to court documents, but Drew Peterson went ahead with his probe and failed to tell his superiors until it hit a dead end.
"You had better take your guns off. I have something to say that's real bad," Drew Peterson allegedly told his supervisors at the time. Then Drew Peterson's former supervisor with the narcotics squad, retired state police Lt. Col. Ronald Janota accused Drew Peterson of leaking the state agent's identity to Rock.
Rock has claimed that Drew Peterson, who had previously arrested him, was extorting him with threats to trump up new criminal charges if he did not agree to sell cocaine Drew Peterson was stealing from drug raids. Drew Peterson denied this allegation.
The criminal charges against Drew Peterson were eventually dropped. Sources have said the special prosecutor assigned to the case blew the speedy trial term.
And Peterson ended up getting his job back, just like his son will try to do now.