Schaumburg settles 10th lawsuit against village, police officers

Sarah Freishtat

Schaumburg officials have agreed to settle out of court another police-related lawsuit filed against the village, as well as current and former police officers.

It is the 10th lawsuit the village has settled related to former cops accused of corruption, said Jim Sotos, a village attorney.

Schaumburg village board members recently voted to approve a $30,000 settlement for Christine Abel, Nicholas Abel and John Abel, Sr., who alleged in a federal lawsuit that Schaumburg and Hanover Park police officers “conspired and acted together to cover up the false arrest of” Nicholas Abel and said the officers agreed to “falsify police reports, criminal complaints and other documents and agree(d) to falsely testify,” among other claims.

Schaumburg officials admitted no wrongdoing in the settlement and denied many of the accusations in the suit.

The lawsuit named as defendants the village of Schaumburg, former police officers Matthew Hudak, John Cichy and Terrance O’Brien, and current police Officer Alan Takei. The suit also named the village of Hanover Park and seven Hanover Park police officers. The lawsuit was filed after O’Brien, Hudak and Cichy were charged in 2013 with conspiracy to steal drugs and money from drug dealers while on duty.

So far, the village has spent about $164,000 on settlements related to the former officers, Sotos said. Three lawsuits are pending, he said.

“The Abel lawsuit, in particular, was settled for a fraction of what it would have cost to defend the case all the way through trial,” Sotos said.

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In the lawsuit, the Abels allege two Hanover Park police officers arrived at their home on Andrew Lane looking for someone who no longer lived there. They then arrested Nicholas Abel when “there was no probable cause or any other legal justification,” according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit alleged that additional officers, including those from Schaumburg, later arrived and searched the home several times, without and, later, with a warrant. At one point, Christine Abel arrived and officers “threatened” her if she refused to give them permission to search the home, according to the lawsuit.

During a search, the officers “caused property damage to the Plaintiffs’ residence,” according to the suit, which further accused police officers of taking about $4,000 from the Abels’ home but said they “only inventoried some of the money they seized and stole the rest.”

Nicholas Abel ultimately was charged with felony possession of a controlled substance and possession of more than 500 grams of cannabis, according to the lawsuit. His brother, John Abel, Jr., who has a prior conviction of aggravated robbery and is not named as a plaintiff in the lawsuit, was arrested separately.

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In the lawsuit, the Abels allege two Hanover Park police officers arrived at their home on Andrew Lane looking for someone who no longer lived there. They then arrested Nicholas Abel when “there was no probable cause or any other legal justification,” according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit alleged that additional officers, including those from Schaumburg, later arrived and searched the home several times, without and, later, with a warrant. At one point, Christine Abel arrived and officers “threatened” her if she refused to give them permission to search the home, according to the lawsuit.

During a search, the officers “caused property damage to the Plaintiffs’ residence,” according to the suit, which further accused police officers of taking about $4,000 from the Abels’ home but said they “only inventoried some of the money they seized and stole the rest.”

Nicholas Abel ultimately was charged with felony possession of a controlled substance and possession of more than 500 grams of cannabis, according to the lawsuit. His brother, John Abel, Jr., who has a prior conviction of aggravated robbery and is not named as a plaintiff in the lawsuit, was arrested separately.

Suburban Chicago arrest photos.

The lawsuit alleges the officers “conspired and acted together to cover up” the wrongful seizure of the money and search of the Abels’ home. It also alleges the officers attempted to “cover up” the circumstances of Nicholas Abel’s arrest and “their own misconduct” in John Abel Jr.’s arrest.

The lawsuit also says that Schaumburg police officers had taken similar actions for 10 years. During those years, the lawsuit alleges, supervising officers “fail(ed) to oversee and/or otherwise properly discipline officers.”

Sotos said those allegations are unfounded. Investigations have not uncovered misconduct by any officers other than the three charged with conspiracy, he said.

“The misconduct was confined to the reprehensible conduct of three rogue officers who are being appropriately punished in the criminal courts and are no longer representatives of the village of Schaumburg,” Sotos said.

O’Brien and Hudak, two of the defendants charged in 2013, pleaded guilty and are serving prison sentences. Cichy, the third, is scheduled to head to trial in the coming months. Takei still works for the Schaumburg police department, Sotos said.

All of the Hanover Park police officers still work for the department except for one who left in good standing, said Hanover Park HR Director Wendy Bednarek. Hanover Park was not a party to the settlement and is still going through the legal process, Bednarek said. She declined to comment further because the case is pending.

Blake Horwitz, the Abels’ attorney, called the settlement “just.”