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Whistleblower Collects $3.7 Million

In a closely watched case, an Illinois jury awarded $3.7 million in damages to a police officer who blew the whistle on corruption in his department for the retaliation that his testimony brought.

The plaintiff, an officer with the Stickney Village Police Department, testified before a grand jury about corruption in the department, including the loss of money and drugs that the police had seized. As a result of the investigation, one Village official pleaded guilty to theft.

However, the jury heard evidence that, after the officer gave his testimony, the mayor and the police chief retaliated against him by demoting him, taking away his office, assigning him to patrol duty, and even trying to convince a woman to charge him with sexual assault. These acts destroyed the officer's health and forced him into early retirement.

The case was closely watched because a recent decision by the United States Supreme Court held that a public employee's right to speak out about his or her job was not always protected by the First Amendment. Despite this decision, the police officer prevailed on his claims, although the defendants are seeking to have the decision overruled.

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