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May 24, 2024

Tri-State Fire – The 2013 mystery returns –

By Kirk Allen & John Kraft

On December 5, 2016

DuPage Co. (ECWd) –

By all indications, a criminal has been working for years at Tri-State Fire Protection District and it appears no one seems to be concerned.

We reported on Micheal Orrico’s arrest in this article in relation to his failure to disclose certain information on his Economic Disclosure Statement.

Today we received his mug shot and the investigation narratives, and by all indications, a crime has taken place and it does not appear to be the first time.  However, the crime now in question is not about an Economic Disclosure Statement.

Closed Session recordings are once again missing.  This is not the first time this has happened.  The Better Government Association  (BGA) reported on missing closed session recordings back in 2013.  According to that report, it was Micheal Orrico, the one now charged with a crime, who had concerns over access to those recordings.

“After Trustee Michael Orrico raised concerns at a public board meeting in September about the location of the tapes and the accuracy of meeting minutes, Strenzel said the tapes were in her possession because of renovations at Tri-State and that if Orrico wanted to listen to any of them, they could arrange it.”

“The reported break-in came only a few days after yet another strange episode related to district tapes. Just before a regular board meeting was about to begin on Nov. 18, Strenzel fell outside of the station and broke two empty tape recorders, according to meeting minutes. At the request of a district attorney, an employee was sent to buy another recording device “so that there could be a closed session meeting,” the documents show.”

Then, in 2015, the BGA runs another report

“My concern is that two civilians without any trustee present had access to private and confidential closed-session tapes, which may very well pertain to them,” Habercoss said.

So once again, access to closed session records is an issue and by all indications has been an issue since 2013.  We now have confirmation that there is still a serious problem and one that may well lead to criminal charges for someone if and when the proper authorities dive into what appears to clearly be a crime.

The recently obtained investigation narratives regarding Micheal Orrico is what has exposed yet another potential problem at the Tri-State Fire Protection District.  The subject?  Closed session records.

“I asked her where the recordings were kept and she said that they had been kept in a safe in the Trustee’s Office in Burr Ridge. She said that Trustee Habercross and their Acting Chief went to the Trustee’s Office last week and opened the safe and there was nothing inside the safe.  I asked her if the minutes from the closed session were ever typed up and she said no.”

The investigator asked who had access to that safe and it was confirmed, Micheal Orrico was one of five people who had such access.  Sadly, the investigation into missing records appears to have ended with the charging of Orrico for filing a false EDS.

We would like to know why no investigation is taking place for records missing from a safe?  What would those records disclose?  Is their perhaps evidence in those recordings that would prove false statements may have been made during the investigation of Orrico?  What are the odds the same fire department has questionable activity around closed session recordings multiple times since 2013? What are the common denominators?

Although we may never know the answers to what was on those tapes, we are pleased to see that the DuPage County State’s Attorney resurrected this closed case after the Police Department deferred further action to the discretion of the Trustees at the Fire Protection District.

The Police are to investigate and take their findings of violations of law to the State’s Attorney for them to make a determination if charges are to be filed.  For the Darien PD to leave that up to the public body is inappropriate.  We encourage the States Attorney’s office to educate the appropriate Police agencies that neither they, nor citizens who file a complaint, have the authority to determine if a case moves forward in the criminal justice system.

For now, the words from the BGA in 2013 appear to ring as true today as they did 3 years ago : “Whatever has been going on during executive session remains a mystery.”

You can review the entire record provided by the Darian PD below.

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