A former McHenry County sheriff's deputy has dropped a long-running lawsuit against the county in exchange for escaping a hefty court fine, officials said Monday.
Zane Seipler filed a federal suit in 2008 claiming he was wrongly terminated for claiming that the sheriff's office discriminated against minority drivers.
In exchange for dropping the suit, the county agreed not to seek about $240,000 that a judge had ordered Seipler to pay in legal costs. The judge found that he had lied under oath by denying that he had posted other deputies' disciplinary records online. The county also changed the terms of Seipler's departure from termination to a resignation.
The 5-year-old court case, which had named Sheriff Keith Nygren and several deputies as defendants, cost more than $900,000 in legal fees. The county paid $100,000 of that, while its insurer, the Illinois Counties Risk Management Trust, paid the rest, Deputy County Administrator John Labaj said. The county admitted no wrongdoing.'
"We're just glad it reached a successful conclusion without costing the taxpayers any more money," Labaj said.
Seipler alleged in 2007 that deputies targeted Hispanic and black drivers for traffic violations. A Tribune analysis found that deputies stopped Hispanics at a far higher rate than similar departments in the area, and mislabeled them as white over five years through 2009.
Jim Sotos, attorney for the sheriff in the case, disputed the findings, saying that most mismarking was limited to two deputies, and the office had taken steps to prevent any targeting of minorities.
Seipler was fired in 2008 after officials said he ticketed white passengers instead of Hispanic drivers in two traffic cases. He won his job back through arbitration, but was fired again last year after the judge's finding that he lied in his court case.
Seipler, who lost a race for sheriff in 2011, supported candidate Bill Prim in his successful Republican primary bid for sheriff this year, and said he is ready to move on.
"The culture is changing," Seipler said. "All I care about is we got Bill Prim in good position to take the reins."
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