EFFINGHAM — Effingham County Sheriff John Monnet said he has secured legal representation to fight allegations of financial mismanagement and deceit within his office.
Monnet said after Tuesday's 911 Board meeting he was advised to decline any comment on alleged improprieties in his office by his attorneys. He said attorneys Michael Carter of Chicago and Twila Orr of Effingham are providing him with legal representation.
In a letter dated Dec. 6, Effingham businessman Ted Heath, a former part-time Effingham County deputy and member of the county's Emergency Telephone System (911) Board, is calling for Monnet to resign for a variety of reasons related to a long-running radio controversy. Several years ago Monnet said the county didn't have the money to pay user fees for STARCOM 21 radios to be placed in county squad cars.
But Heath said documents he has secured through the Freedom of Information Act show that Monnet lied about his true intentions. Furthermore, Heath said, the deceptive behavior put county deputies at risk because they could not effectively communicate with either the Illinois State Police or Effingham city police, both of whom have adopted the STARCOM system.
See copy of letter at right.
Heath charges that Monnet instead put the money ostensibly earmarked for STARCOM into a high-band radio system.
"You were deceptively behind the scenes attempting to build a VHF High Band system at which you failed miserably," Heath wrote. "As a result of your deception, (you) created a massive interoperability problem with your primary law enforcement backup (Effingham city police) that did not exist."
Heath also accused Monnet of dragging his heels for up to two years on the interoperability issue.
"...during this time the interoperability communication problem that you were solely responsible for creating resulted in numerous 'close call' risks to your officers' safety," he wrote. "...your deception and incompetence resulted in a 'clear and present danger' to your officers as well as the public you are sworn to protect," he wrote.
Heath said Monnet's resignation "is the only honorable course of action."
"This will allow for an interim sheriff to come in and begin to clean up the many 'messes' that have occurred on your watch," he wrote.
For more on the story, see Wednesday's print edition.
Bill Grimes can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 132, or at email@example.com