Saturday, November 9, 2002

Village settles harassment claim for $97,500

Former councilman said police followed his family

By John Nolan
The Associated Press

[photo] Former Arlington Heights council member Roland Heyne Jr. sits with his wife, Patricia, in their apartment in Cincinnati.
(Associated Press photo)
| ZOOM |
ARLINGTON HEIGHTS - This Cincinnati suburb has paid a former village councilman $97,500 to settle a lawsuit claiming police harassed him by following his family, searching his trash and arbitrarily running background checks on him and his relatives.

Roland M. Heyne Jr., 42, who moved from the village to Cincinnati in 2001, said he hopes the settlement ends what he says was more than five years of abuse of police power against his family.

"I can't think of any reason to justify their doing that," Mr. Heyne said during a recent interview at his home. "I just don't want anyone to torment my family."

A federal judge dismissed the 1999 lawsuit Aug. 30 after the settlement was reached between the village and the Heynes. The parties had agreed to keep the settlement confidential, but the Heynes provided a copy of the agreement to the Associated Press.

The village of 900 people and the other defendants - former mayor Glenn Allen, retired police Chief Charles C. Huff and three officers - did not admit to any wrongdoing in the agreement. The village's insurance paid for the settlement.

Lawyers for the village, Mr. Huff and Mr. Allen would not comment on the settlement, citing the confidentiality agreement. Mr. Huff and Mr. Allen did not respond to requests, through their lawyers, to be interviewed.

Jack Parsons, a former Arlington Heights police sergeant, said Mr. Huff ordered the three officers named in the suit - Tim Gallagher, Dale Covert and Paul Rennie - to watch the Heyne family and run computer checks on their license plates. Mr. Covert searched the family's trash, Mr. Parsons said.

Officer objected

Mr. Parsons, 47, told Mr. Huff he objected to his orders concerning the Heynes, Mr. Parsons said.

"The intent was to obtain a probable cause to obtain a search warrant for the house," he said. "Not only was it them being followed, it was their children.

"I refused to do it. It was not a criminal matter, it was more or less a personal or civil matter," said Mr. Parsons, who left the department after being struck by a car while on duty in December 1998. "There was so much allegation and so much hate involving Chuck Huff and Mayor Allen ... they wanted them (the Heynes) to leave, to move out of town."

Mr. Heyne ran unsuccessfully for Arlington Heights mayor against Mr. Allen in 1995. Mr. Heyne accused Mr. Allen and Mr. Huff of intimidating voters into supporting Mr. Allen.

After his unsuccessful election bid, Mr. Heyne filed a lawsuit against the village to try to force disclosure of police department spending records, which he said the village refused to provide.

In a sworn statement to Mr. Heyne's lawyers in November 2000, Mr. Huff said Mr. Covert had been authorized to search the family's trash and do a background check as part of a police investigation into a complaint of drug misuse at the Heyne house.

Mr. Huff's department helped bring charges against Mr. Heyne for deception to obtain prescription drugs. Mr. Heyne, whose record was cleared after court-ordered drug treatment, was later elected to the village council in November 1997.

Mr. Huff also said his officers were authorized to do investigations without his knowledge, and that his department sometimes would run computer checks of license plates on people who were not being investigated.

Mr. Heyne's wife, Patricia, 39, said she complained to the FBI and Hamilton County Sheriff Simon Leis Jr., but nothing was done.

Mr. Leis said he could not remember talking with the Heynes. The FBI investigated their allegations but did not find any reason to pursue criminal charges, FBI spokesman James Turgal said.

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