Letter: Former Roberts chief thanks supportersI would like to extend my most sincere thanks, and appreciation to all of you for your support during what has been, and continues to be, a very troublesome time.
By: Ricci D. Prein, Roberts,
To the Editor:
I would like to extend my most sincere thanks, and appreciation to all of you for your support during what has been, and continues to be, a very troublesome time.
The telephone calls, warm hugs, handshakes, heartfelt words of encouragement and condolences from all of you, many of whom I have seen but never met before. Those gestures have not gone unnoticed, and will never be forgotten.
I also want to extend my heartfelt apologies to you, and the community as a whole, for any alleged actions or conduct to bring about this whole sad saga. It is truly people like you that put the “good” in the “Good Neighbor Community.”
I certainly felt that I had a good working relationship with six of the seven members of the Village Board of Trustees. But as the song goes, and I soon found out is true, “...you can’t give your heart to a one-sided dream; sometimes a picture ain’t all that it seems...”
It is very difficult to try and figure out when and where the dialogue fizzled out; and when I was chained to the walls in the dungeons of those minds, as well as those of the Police Review Board.
But it was apparent that it was going to be an uphill battle from the start when as an employer, and overseeing body of government, rather than bring forth in discussion formal or otherwise, with respect to any concerns, they chose to hire an attorney to investigate me.
First awareness was the receipt of a letter on May 12, 2008 (dated May 9, 2008) from the “investigating attorney” vaguely outlining areas of concern, the first being use of village computer, and wished to meet with me to “take notes.”
It became very obvious that the gallows were under construction when I exercised my right to legal representation. And during the entire process, the use of computers became the main focal point with the hyped discussion and media coverage.
I attended an interview with the “investigating attorney” on May 23, 2008; who in the meantime felt compelled to not take notes but have a court reporter. He was further angered when my representative and I conferred with legal counsel.
However, I stayed for the arrogant, bellowing, brow beating, gestapo-like interrogation, during which I wasn’t even questioned about 80 percent of the forthcoming formal “employment complaint.” And during that interview I asked for specifics to allow a more informative response and I was denied.
The court reporter’s report will, of course, not reflect that arrogant, bullying demeanor of the “investigator.” However, the tape recording of the interview will, I’m sure. I said from day one what I did or did not do. I said from day one that I would take a polygraph, and while admissibility in court may still be a question of concern, it has been and is still used during the process of “complete” investigations. I wonder how many of the players in this case could pass one?
It became an even longer, more difficult climb when a letter from my legal counsel was sent to the village board’s “investigating attorney” requesting to meet with the Village Board of Trustees to discuss any issues or concerns and said letter was ignored. When the clerk’s office was quizzed with respect to that letter, the response was that of “fake” surprise -- had not seen it -- and the continued response was even more surprising as the “village president and the investigating attorney are handling it.” And at least one village board member under oath admitted having not reviewed that letter. And another stated that there were so many papers he couldn’t remember.
The process continued; during which it was finally revealed that the “investigation” was authorized and began in later March 2008, I did see one document stamp dated March 17, 2008 (well Happy birthday to me.) My guess is that it was all in the works prior. That was after computers from other departments and offices were replaced, discarded or otherwise sanitized. Which, by the way, during testimony, under oath the chief’s (that was me) computer was the only one checked or otherwise “investigated.” A computer which was not password protected and I provided that information, which was ignored. And I, as well as others, including past and present employees, and citizens, can tell you all kinds of stories about what has been brought up, viewed and otherwise by employees, while utilizing village computers.
But they chose to make me out to be the bad guy after neither undertaking nor concerning themselves with a “complete,” thorough and “impartial investigation.” And through the process of this complete investigation, the clerk and present board president were making contact with present and former employees, county officers as well as the citizenry to not only brag about the investigation but also solicit “any dirt” they could provide.
I was suspended with pay (four plus months after the start of the investigation) on a Thursday, one working day for my counsel prior to the Monday morning PRB hearing to determine my “fate.” Even though the PRB and village board found future liability problems if I remained. I questioned that, as throughout the process I argued I should be suspended throughout the “investigative” process. That however, once again, fell on deaf ears. If there was such a concern for liability, why continue to let me oversee the very same people or deal with the very same people who raised concerns until the issues are resolved, and or come to a formal end.
I was then compelled to attend the PRB hearing, with hopes of a truth prevailing. Instead testimony of hearsay, half truths, exaggerations and outright fabrications came forth. Much of what I could produce in my defense was ignored, passed off or otherwise disregarded.
The village, however, was permitted to have witnesses testify to things that were not in their own initial reports and were ruled to be argumentative when asked questions from my defense. The PRB found testimony from the same witness to be factual and credible when he/she testified to observing me consuming a brand of beer that I do not even drink and that observation was made for an alleged three to five minutes from a distance of no less than 43 feet; and not contained in the initial Dec. 23, 2006 incident report. And why wasn’t the other initial responding (ride along) deputy put on the stand to confirm the alleged observation?
The PRB, village board and other village officials know very well that prior to our arrival here my wife and I engaged in cleaning services. We were asked and responded in kind to conduct cleaning services. Those services were conducted for approximately two and a half years. That service was given over to a well respected couple. When hard times fell upon them due to health/medical, I was asked to fill in during the month of December 2006. I did so throughout the month, and Father forgive me, did so after the Dec. 23, 2006 incident. The PRB in the final findings took into consideration that I did not provide witnesses to sustain this activity, something I truly believed was public knowledge, and was reported to my superior within a reasonable time frame.
The PRB allowed fabrications with no documentation of dates, etc. of things that were alleged to have occurred two to six years prior, was accepted as the gospel truth. I was compelled to answer “yes” or “no” to a tape recording that to this date, I have yet to hear. The failure of PRB members to recuse him/herself because of any direct knowledge, or involvement, or other influence.
There however are some brief shining moments like when then the “investigator/prosecutor” stated “...not pornographic, not necessarily obscene...” “I’m not trying to paint Mr. Prein as a pornographer, or anything like that.” However, that is exactly what was accomplished by the whole orchestration of a “complete investigation,” as the news media was certainly made no stranger to the blow-by-blow unfolding event.
That was evidenced by the placing of an “anonymous” call to Channel 5 News by a neighbor of a PRB member. The caller then went downtown and bragged about it. The conduct of the aforementioned villages offices, the silence of the PRB members when asked to recuse him/herself, the witnesses under subpoena, having been sequestered at the request of the “investigating/prosecuting” attorney; were visited by that same attorney, and given blow by blow accounts of the proceedings, pinning another feather on a hat the hat he/she was wearing. That hat being village of Roberts “legal counsel-investigator-prosecutor” which of course shielded him/her from testifying under oath to test the veracity of the investigation and the process thereof.
And to ensure the full force of the Village of Roberts was descending upon me, the village board sent the board president (a witness under subpoena) to attend in full military camouflage deployment garb. Channel 5 did get that. That was on July 28, 2008. The full deployment coming down on me must have been called off, as the same witness showed up on July 29, 2008 in civilian clothes. Here is a guy so concerned about wearing a uniform, didn’t wear his (must have been on undercover mission) while we were waiting for the testimony that never came forth. But it doesn’t reflect in the PRB record. What does reflect is that they didn’t put their own witness on the stand. The person who was disgruntled while employed for the village. Resigned, and then filed suit against the village for unemployment, and discrimination on the state, federal and military levels; and was not successful. The village board members at the time; some of who are still sitting members, as well as officers of this village; were participants of that process. The camouflage worked perfect as we never did see him on the witness stand.
And then on Friday, Aug. 1, 2008; the PRB decision was to be formally announced at 1 p.m. I, as was my legal counsel, under the impression that I, the most affected, would be notified of any decision. However the decision was announced on or about 7:30 a.m. in downtown Roberts to the general public by the apparent newly created position of town crier, appointed or otherwise undertaken by a spouse of a PRB member. Could this be construed as an official act?
I put my trust and faith in the system, as did my legal counsel, with hopes of coming before a real court and/or arbitrator. I firmly believe that it was politically motivated, and the checks and balances of that system fell by the wayside. There was some truth spoken by the “investigating/prosecuting” attorney when he stated; “I’m hard of hearing and somebody told me that some of the board members have a little trouble hearing.”
It seems everyone had a hard time hearing, or maybe heard what they wanted to. But who needs to hear when you can read all the salacious garbage in front of them. I wasn’t aware that my employment could be terminated for incidents that occurred two to six years prior, were addressed and dealt with at the time. But I found out differently during my walk through the valley of the unconcerned.
The “investigating/prosecuting” attorney should be ashamed of his critical “good old boy” characterization of the former village president. Remember that at the spring election. Your vote could make a difference in addressing the new “good old boy” club.
In closing, my heart is only filled with sadness, apologies and regret. Revenge has never been in my upbringing or vocabulary. Revenge is a coward’s way of letting them know they intimidated you.
So now the “Good Neighbor Community” people can sit around with their contemporary peers and talk about “good,” the missing years.
Thanking you for your time and consideration, I remain;
Ricci D. Prein