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Firing of Drew Peterson’s son upheld

Published: Tuesday, March 19, 2013 11:09 a.m. CST

(MCT) WHEATON, Ill. — Drew Peterson’s son deserved to lose his police badge for his actions following the 2007 disappearance of Peterson’s young wife, a DuPage County judge ruled Monday.

Stephen Peterson, 33, was fired from the Oak Brook Police Department in 2011 after officials ruled that he delivered contradictory testimony, failed to disclose important information and demonstrated poor judgment during an Illinois State Police investigation into the vanishing of Stacy Peterson, his father’s fourth wife.

In one instance, for example, Stephen Peterson did not tell authorities that his father gave him $236,800 in uncashed checks shortly after Stacy disappeared and told him he would have to take care of his siblings if anything happened to him. Detectives say that exchange could have benefited their investigation, but the younger Peterson insisted he didn’t know that his father was a suspect at the time of that conversation.

The village police and fire commission also said Stephen Peterson took three weapons from his father to prevent them from being seized when law enforcement agents searched Drew Peterson’s Bolingbrook home. Drew Peterson was charged with owning an assault rifle with an illegal short barrel, but the case was later dismissed.

Stephen Peterson challenged his termination in court, but Judge Terence M. Sheen upheld the commission’s decision in a written ruling released Monday.

“In this case, it was in no way arbitrary or unreasonable for the Board to conclude that Officer Peterson exhibited conduct incompatible with continued service as a police officer,” Sheen wrote. “Therefore, this Court finds that Officer Peterson’s conduct, when viewed in its entirety warrants the sanction of discharge.”

Stephen Peterson, who had his young daughter with him at the Wheaton courthouse for the brief hearing, showed no visible reaction to the ruling. He is expected to appeal the decision. He has long maintained that he was helping his father and his actions had nothing to do with his duties as an Oak Brook Police officer.

He has 30 days to appeal to a higher court.

“We haven’t decided yet, but we are definitely going to have a discussion about it,” his attorney Tamara Cummings said. “It’s very likely we will appeal.”

In July 2012, Stephen Peterson also filed a $10 million federal lawsuit against the Oak Brook Police Department over his termination.

Since his father’s arrest five years ago, Stephen Peterson has been raising his four younger siblings in Drew Peterson’s Bolingbrook home. His two oldest half brothers are now in college. The two younger half siblings are still in grade school.

The family’s primary source of income is Drew Peterson’s $79,000 pension from his nearly 30 years with the Bolingbrook Police Department. Village officials, however, are examining whether to strip him of his retirement benefits following his felony murder conviction.

A Will County jury last year found Peterson guilty of drowning his third wife, Kathleen Savio, in 2004. He has not been charged in Stacy Peterson’s disappearance, though he remains the only suspect.

Drew Peterson, 59, was sentenced to 38 years in prison last month. He will not be eligible for parole until he is 93.

(EDITORS: STORY CAN END HERE)

Before receiving his punishment, he ranted for nearly 40 minutes against the people he believes have done him and his family wrong, including Oak Brook officials.

“(My son) lost his job when I was illegally charged with an illegal weapons charge,” Peterson said. “He got tied up in it and without cause he lost his job and he lost his income.”

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(Chuck Berman contributed to this report.)

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©2013 Chicago Tribune

Visit the Chicago Tribune at www.chicagotribune.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services

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