The Cook County Board is expected to sign off on a $2.4 million settlement next week stemming from a 2008 federal lawsuit filed by a group of deputies that accused Sheriff Tom Dart of political retaliation.
The group of 21 deputies filed a suit claiming that Dart retaliated against them because they supported his political rival, Richard Reemus, during his run for sheriff in 2006. The officers also say they were unjustly disciplined and passed over for overtime opportunities and promotions.
The board is expected to vote next Wednesday on the settlement, which will be split among the 21 deputies who were part of a unit that focused on stifling prisoner disturbances.
Cara Smith, a spokeswoman for Dart, told the Chicago Sun-Times that the settlement is “outrageous,” noting that the unit had been under fire in the past for harsh treatment of inmates. According to officials at the sheriff's department, one deputy of the unit had also assisted five inmates in breaking out of Cook County jail in 2006. The unit was disbanded not too long after the jail break, and the deputy was later convicted for his role in the incident.
Dart's office wanted to appeal the case after a jury sided with the deputies. But instead, the Cook County state’s attorney’s office put the case in mediation, during which a retired federal judge ruled that the deputies were to be awarded the $2.4 million settlement.
“This is a gross example of no good deed goes unpunished,” Dart’s spokeswoman told the newspaper. “This team was disbanded because it was the right thing to do for the management of this jail . . . Because of the way the case was handled, we are stuck with this settlement that the sheriff strenuously objected to.”