HEYWORTH — The Illinois Appellate Court has ruled a former Heyworth police chief was not entitled to back pay, reversing an earlier ruling from a McLean County judge.
In October 2017, Chris Lane was awarded reinstatement to his post and back pay after Judge Rebecca Foley ruled that village officials made "technical errors" and improperly terminated Lane in February 2016.
Court documents indicate that on Feb. 16, 2016, Mayor Todd Zalucha removed Lane from his position as the appointed police chief of the village of Heyworth. Two days later, Zalucha informed the public during a Village Board meeting and then explained his reasons to village trustees during an executive session.
HEYWORTH — Former Heyworth Police Chief Chris Lane is entitled to reinstatement to his post and back pay, according to a judge's ruling that v…
At that time, since Lane never received the reasons for his removal in writing as required by state law, he argued he was not properly removed from his position. Zalucha, according to documents, provided those reasons in writing to Lane on Feb. 25 and to the trustees on March 3, 2016.
At that time, the board voted not to reinstate Lane as police chief.
Lane was officially terminated “due to his continual lack of honesty and his performance well below what is expected for being the chief of police for the village of Heyworth,” Zalucha said.
Lane filed a lawsuit, arguing that since Zalucha violated state law by failing to provide Lane the reasons for his termination in writing, Lane deserved back pay and reinstatement. Foley agreed.
“Village officials did not believe the McLean County judge’s decision was correct,” Zalucha said “Therefore, the village appealed the decision to the Illinois Appellate Court.”
The appellate court reversed the decision in a ruling announced last week.
The Village Board never voted to reinstate Lane to his position, which he held for nine years prior to his dismissal. Mike Geriets was hired to replace Lane, who took a job as police chief in McLean.
Lane declined comment when contacted by The Pantagraph. His attorney, Elmhurst-based Richard Blass, did not return messages seeking comment.
He previously told The Pantnagraph that the lawsuit focused on the “technical errors” made during the dismissal, but “categorically deny he engaged in any misconduct whatsoever.”