CROWN POINT — Lake sheriff's officials have formalized their decision last month to fire a former high-ranking officer over allegations of drunken driving in a hit-run crash that injured an Illinois man in 2016.

The five members of the Lake County Sheriff's Merit Board voted Thursday to adopt findings of fact and conclusions of law that support the termination of former Lt. Guy Mikulich.

Mikulich, 38, of Merrillville, was present, but didn't speak to the board at Thursday's meeting.

State police allege Mikulich was driving intoxicated July 10, 2016, in an unmarked Sheriff's Department squad car while on duty at the Gary Air Show when he hit and injured Derrick Dircks, 34, of Frankfort, Illinois.

Dirks survived the accident and is suing Mikulich and the county for civil damages.

Mikulich is pleading not guilty in Lake Criminal Court and his lawyers have indicated he will offer an insanity defense at his criminal trial, which is yet to be scheduled.

Mikulich is suing in Lake Circuit Court to overturn his termination. He complains the merit board should have delayed a decision on his firing until after his criminal case was resolved.

The five-member merit board also voted Thursday to postpone for 90 days a disciplinary hearing against Nicholas "Nick" Medrano, 34, of Crown Point, who is awaiting trial on rape, attempted rape, sexual battery and confinement charges.

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Lawyers for Medrano and Sheriff Oscar Martinez Jr. agreed to the 90-day delay to comply with a federal law forbidding any legal action against soldiers until 90 days after their military duties are completed. Medrano is a U.S. Army helicopter rappel master currently on a training assignment somewhere within the U.S.

John Kopack, an attorney for the sheriff, said, "Sheriff Martinez supports every veteran. He wants to do what is right for veterans."

The indictment alleges Medrano knowingly or intentionally had sexual intercourse with a co-worker in the Sheriff's Department between Jan. 10, 2013, and June 30, 2014. He is pleading not guilty and is awaiting trial, now scheduled to begin in December

The board voted last summer to suspend Medrano and may terminate him at a hearing now scheduled in January.

Defense lawyer Christopher Cooper argued Thursday that Medrano didn't commit a rape and would be willing to testify to what happened if the merit board delays his hearing until after his trial.

The board chose to wait and see if Medrano's December trial is concluded before their January meeting.

The board also accepted all the new police administrators the sheriff named following his selection earlier this month in a Democratic precinct committee caucus to replace former Sheriff John Buncich, who was convicted last month of public corruption.

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Lake County Reporter

Bill has reported in Lake County since 1972 after graduating from Indiana University. He has worked for The Times since 1997, covering the courts and local government during much of his tenure. Born and raised in New Albany, Ind., he is a native Hoosier.