Kuyachich warns of defamation suit over inquiry action

2011-06-14T19:00:00Z 2011-10-21T09:35:03Z Kuyachich warns of defamation suit over inquiry actionBy Bill Dolan bill.dolan@nwi.com, (219) 662-5328 nwitimes.com

CROWN POINT | A lawyer for former Lake County Police Chief Marco Kuyachich is threatening to sue the county to clear his name in the wake of a reported federal investigation of the Sheriff's Department.

Valparaiso lawyer Ivan Bodensteiner sent a written notice to attorneys for Sheriff John Buncich, the county commissioners and state officials demanding Buncich reinstate Kuyachich to active duty and publicly state Kuyachich isn't a target of the investigation.

County Attorney John Dull said he received the notice Tuesday. He said the county has several months to respond before any lawsuit can be filed.

John Bushemi, attorney for the sheriff, didn't return a call seeking comment. He previously said all matters regarding the federal investigation should be directed to the office of U.S. attorney's office. Mary Hatton, spokeswoman for the office, couldn't be reached late Tuesday for comment.

Kuyachich and five other Lake County officers -- Lt. Michael Reilly, Sgt. Joseph Kumstar and Officers Ronald Slusser, Edward Kabella and Scott Shelhart -- were stripped of their police powers last month and put on paid administrative leave amid reports federal investigators are looking into questionable gun sales and other alleged improprieties.

None of the six officers has been charged with any crime.

Bodensteiner claims the sheriff is defaming Kuyachich, writing, "Capt. Kuyachich has been assured by federal officials that he is not a suspect, but rather a witness."

Bodensteiner has asked for "an impartial hearing officer" to clear Kuyachich's name if Buncich is unwilling to take action himself.

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