Suspension for six Lake officers remains in place

2011-06-16T17:27:00Z 2011-09-22T14:20:05Z Suspension for six Lake officers remains in placeBy Bill Dolan bill.dolan@nwi.com, (219) 662-5328 nwitimes.com

CROWN POINT | Six Lake County police officers remain suspended with pay in the wake of a federal corruption investigation despite one sheriff's Merit Board member's effort Thursday to reinstate them.

"Nobody is indicted or has been subpoenaed," Robert Malizzo complained. "They should be working full time until federal agents come and say these officers have committed a crime and will be charged."

Other Merit Board members, who have the authority to hire, discipline and fire police officers, didn't agreed with Malizzo.

Instead, the other four members voted only to officially acknowledge that Capt. Marco Kuyachich, Lt. Michael Reilly, Sgt. Joseph Kumstar and Officers Ronald Slusser, Edward Kabella and Scott Shelhart are on administrative leave.

Sheriff John Buncich stripped the six of police powers May 24 after federal agents executed search warrants at three Lake County locations.

The U.S. attorney's office said the Sheriff's Department is not the target of the investigation and hasn't commented on rumors it is looking into questionable gun sales and other improprieties.

Malizzo's questions were met with a statement by John Bushemi, an attorney for the sheriff, who asked the board to not comment on the six officers.

Malizzo continued, "It's been discussed in the papers and on TV. It's out in the public already. These people are witnesses, and police witness crimes every day. Do we suspend them all?"

Kuyachich is threatening to sue the county to clear his name. His lawyer, Ivan Bodensteiner, states Kuyachich is only a witness, not a target, of the investigation.

Justin Murphy, an attorney for the Merit Board, said board members aren't taking action against the six officers, only taking notice of what the sheriff already has done.

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