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April 12, 2024

Lake in the Hills Sanitary District – Pornography on computer leads to suspension of Chief Operator Ross Nelson

By Kirk Allen & John Kraft

On August 30, 2019

McHenry Co. (ECWd) –

Tamara Mueller, District Manager of the Lake in the Hills Sanitary District, issued a three-day suspension without pay this month to the District’s Chief Operator Ross Nelson due to pornographic photos being found on the public computer in his office.

Gabriel Camacho, Director of Network Services discovered the nude photos on the computer in Ross Jr’s. office May 15th, 2019 during routine maintenance.  According to an internal investigation report issued by the Law Firm of Storino, Ramello & Durkin, initially, Nelson was admonished with only a written reprimand placed in his personnel file for having inappropriate personal photos on the public computer.

The claim is that the written reprimand was done to protect the privacy of the subject of the photos.  If that is true, it appears to give credibility to allegations in an anonymous complaint that alleged to have been sent to the District’s President Eric Hanson, former trustee Terry Easler, Northwest Herald, Cal Skinner, and ECWd.  The complaint alleges the photos on the computer are those of an office worker.  If so, that would explain privacy concerns.  The report alludes to the minimal initial action taken due to Mueller only being an acting director with no authority to discipline employees.

The memo provided to Nelson hardly carries any indication of actual discipline and only points to it as “inappropriate content”.

“Please immediately remove all inappropriate photos and any other inappropriate content that may exist and refrain from obtaining and/or saving such content on any District devices in the future.”

The three-day suspension without pay only came after Mueller was appointed as Director and is insufficient discipline in our opinion.

The information we received from our FOIA points to other potentially criminal acts taking place in the District and has been forwarded to the appropriate authorities. We have also submitted an FOIA request to the Lake in the Hills Police Department in an attempt to validate allegations in the anonymous complaint.

Even though the FOIA response claims to have provided other information requested it is clear they did not produce the requested records regarding bids for equipment sold to an employee of the district nor the publication of the bid.

You can view the FOIA response and all the provided documents below or download at this link.

LITH FOIA response

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