Archive for December 16th, 2015

Former Highwood Deputy Fire Chief on trial (more)

Excerpts from

Four years after former Highwood Fire Department Deputy Chief Ronald Pieri was arrested on charges related to payroll fraud, a Lake County Circuit Court judge has found him guilty on a single count of false entry for falsifying time records. But Judge Victoria Rossetti found Pieri not guilty on two counts of official misconduct and two counts of theft of government property.

Sentencing on the lone conviction, a felony, is scheduled for Feb. 17. Pieri could face probation or up to five years in prison.

After the verdict, defense lawyer Richard Blass said he “respectfully disagrees” with the outcome, as he does not believe the state’s evidence supported a count of false entry beyond a reasonable doubt.

Before ruling on the case, Rossetti summarized the content of many of the state’s 45 exhibits, which contained thousands of pages of documents, as well as the testimony of key witnesses. She said Pieri was very familiar with the firehouse computer system for tracking personnel on duty, as he managed the system and taught others how to use it. He also was aware of the city’s personnel policies for fire employees.

Pieri stood trial this fall before Rossetti on felony charges related to the falsification of time records from January 2006 to December 2010.

During opening and closing arguments, Assistant State’s Attorney Scott Turk had portrayed Pieri as a disgruntled employee who felt he had been wronged and wanted to work a 9-to-5 job. Despite his job title, he was required to work a 24-hour shift every third day — like other firefighters in the small department, prosecution witnesses testified.

Pieri’s defense lawyers, Blass and Julie Trevarthen, said the state’s case was built on flawed, unreliable data, as evidenced by discrepancies in three sets of calculations created by the state’s fraud examiner in preparing the prosecution’s case. Moreover, the defense said the state’s analysis had assumed that if Pieri’s time sheets did not match the on-duty records kept in the firehouse computer system that the time sheets rather than the firehouse records were in error. An expert witness, Benjamin Wilner, had dismissed the time records as unreliable after finding an anomaly showing that a fire official had worked 1,500 hours in one day.

Pieri was arrested on criminal felony charges in fall 2011 and initially was placed on paid administrative leave by the city of Highwood pending an internal investigation. At the time of his arrest, Pieri was the highest-ranking member of the Highwood Fire Department, the husband of an alderman and the son of a former alderman.

He continued to draw his salary of about $66,000 until fall 2013, when city’s fire and police commissioners board voted 2-1 to suspend him without pay.

The commission has been awaiting the outcome of the criminal trial before considering his employment status.

“The burden is now on the city to take the next step, and that will continue now,” Pecaro said.

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Chicago Blackhawks honor fallen CFD FF/PM Daniel Capuano


thanks Drew


Northbrook Civic Foundation honors Tim Olk

Northbrook Fire Chief Jose Torres congratulates Tim Olk

Larry Shapiro photo

Area photographer and frequent contributor Tim Olk was honored Monday night by the Northbrook Civic Foundation. He was awarded the Civic Award for his years of service to the community where he has lived all his life.

Congratulations Tim!

Tim Olk receives the Civic Award from the Northbrook Civic Foundation

Larry Shapiro photo

Excerpts from the

Tim Olk received one of two Northbrook 2015 Civic Awards Monday evening given by the Northbrook Civic Foundation.

He and seven volunteers of the greater Northbrook community were recognized at the Civic Foundation’s annual meeting and awards dinner. A professional fire scene photographer, Olk had spent the morning taking photographs of Chicago first responders firefighters hanging mourning bunting. He also photographed the processional which honored Chicago Fire Department firefighter Daniel Capuano, who died battling a blaze earlier in the day.

Olk was nominated for the award by Northbrook Fire Department Deputy Chief Tim Smeltzer. Several firefighters and Northbrook Fire Chief Jose Torres attended to support Olk who has photographed fire scenes since his youth. “Tim Olk is a selfless, giving individual,” Chief Torres said. “Not only is he locally recognized, but he is nationally recognized for his contributions.”

Northbrook Fire Chief Jose Torres

Larry Shapiro photo

Tim shoots for more than 50 Midwest fire departments including Chicago and Northbrook and was certified in the 1990s by the Illinois Office of the State Fire Marshal to document fire scenes.

Olk supports the Northbrook Civic Foundation photographing Northbrook Days, where he has volunteered for festival operations since he was 12.

Northbrook Fire Chief Jose Torres and Tim Olk

Larry Shapiro photo

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Post Office to be named in memory of Fallen CFD Captain Herbie Johnson


Captain Herbert Johnson Post Office Dedication

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