$5,000 Fine for Nygren’s “Willful” Refusal to Comply with FOIA Request

According to Pete Gonigam’s article on Thursday’s Freedom of Information Act hearing on attorney’s fees, there was an additional $5,000 fine ordered by Judge Thomas Meyer.

Pete Gonigam and his attorney Mary Gardner

Pete Gonigam and his attorney Mary Gardner

It was levied “against the Sheriff’s Office last month for ‘willfully’ withholding the report,” Gonigam reported.

$5,000 is the maximum fine for violating the Freedom of Information Act.

Gonigam sought the report exonerating Undersheriff Andy Zinke of any wrongdoing when he told a subject to a Drug Enforcement Agency investigation in Crystal Lake.

Former Sheriff Keith Nygren, who endorsed Zinke as his replacement, refused to release the document to Gonigam even though Zinke had showed it to the Northwest Herald and even after the Illinois Attorney General issued an opinion saying he should.

The First Electric Newspaper says, “Deputy [McHenry County] Administrator Scott Hartman emailed FEN Wednesday that McHenry County was ready to pay the $5,000.”

“The egregiousness was he [Zinke] was trying to manipulate the disclosure to people he knew would be favorable,” FEN reports Judge Meyer said.

Gonigam notes that the money will come in handy.

“That’ll help finance the appeal to close the hole in the Illinois Freedom of Information Act before anyone one else in one of McHenry County’s other 138 governmental bodies tries to jump through it,” he said.


$5,000 Fine for Nygren’s “Willful” Refusal to Comply with FOIA Request — 15 Comments

  1. IMO Every fine and every legal charge should be charged to Zinke and Nygren and should come from their personal assets.

    We, the people, are not the ones who caused the problems.

    C’mon Nygren and Zinke, if the law won’t do what is right why don’t you have some class and personally make yourselves responsible, pay up and do what is right.

    Remember there are little old ladies, sick people, and babies paying for these bills that were incurred because of your choices.

  2. So, anonymous, by that logic, we should hold CEOs of major corporations responsible when their companies commit a crime and make them pay out of pocket and step down instead of their company paying a fine for a crime?

  3. Pete Gonigam benefitted personally from creating the news he wrote about.

    He gave himself something to write about costing the taxpayers huge legal fees and proving nothing was ever done illegally.

    We bear the burden in the end.

  4. I agree with anonymous and think the CEO’s.

    since corporations are people, should pay up and go to jail when they commit crimes.

    Instead they pay a small fine and make lots more money and are paid with stock options which are taxed at lower rates.

    By the way, Rauner’s debit cards at least as far as I were financed by a rich hedgefund guy.

  5. As Wow stated, you cannot reach into the personnel pockets.

    Nygren was acting under authority as described to the office by the office’s legal counsel.

    Ok, the lawyer was wrong-the fact that Conigan has carried this vendetta so far as to now costs the county tax payer money is in itself, egregious.

    And, as I’ve asked elsewhere, where IS the report Pete wanted, and where is it published so that which we’ve ultimately paid for, can be viewed to see IF it was in fact, worth the money?

    Show us what, as so many have claimed, was done wrong, by whom, and how, and if the report actually confirmed their claims?

    I think we haven’t seen it because there was nothing in it to back up those claims; IMO.

  6. AZ, surely you are reveling in the fact that Nygren won’t have to pay out of pocket.

    He should though.

    So go Stuff it Az, and go find your french fries.

  7. For the woefully uninformed AZ Supporter: I published the Zinke report summary in (I’m sure this’ll come as a surprise) the First Electric Newspaper.

    It’s the same place I later published the State’s Attorney’s interview with DEA agent “John Doe” which turned out to be glaringly absent from the report.

    Incidentally, the “legal counsel” who advised Nygren that he didn’t have to release the summary was Don Leist, the attorney who admitted that he’d already given a copy to Zinke so a NWH reporter could read it, thus forfeiting any supposed right to withhold it.

    As for my “vendetta” against Zinke, there isn’t one. In our professional interactions, I got along fine with Andy and I feel sorry for him.

  8. Pete, if you can, do not bother with AZ Supporter.

    Most people who make comments on this blog had our fill of him, right along with Fukoku (sp).

    The creepers seem to come out to protect the regime.

  9. I DO stand corrected, in that Pete did publish what he had at the time.Sorry Pete; when I’m wrong, I say I’m wrong.

    And if you think I’M woefully uninformed, read some of Dum Dum’s past posts.

    Stating a legal opinion too about not being able to go after individuals, not a futile emotional reaction.

    I’m gonna go play with my towels and french fries(?), as the game-show host commands.

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