A village in McHenry County with a reputation among some motorists for being a "ticket trap" now faces a million dollar lawsuit filed by a man who said he was unlawfully arrested after criticizing the village's police procedures.
NBC 5 Investigates reported in August how some drivers in unmarked contractor-type vehicles, including vans and trucks, were being ticketed by police in Bull Valley. While state law requires business names to be posted on "second division" vehicles used by construction contractors or subcontractors, the law appears to be rarely enforced across Chicago and its suburbs, with the exception of Bull Valley, according to public records.
Nearly half of Bull Valley's revenue comes from fines and fees, according to its 2015 budget previously posted to the village website.
Business owner Chuck Casamento of nearby Lake in the Hills is a critic of Bull Valley's ticketing practices and has attended administrative hearings to support drivers who have been pulled over for failing to display a company name. One of his subcontractors was pulled over for this reason in 2014. The ticket was eventually dropped at the county level.
Casamento said that vehicles are being pulled over with no probable cause and that these alleged violations should be handled on the county level, not before an administrative judge hired by the village. In some of these cases, Casamento said drivers who speak up during administrative hearings have had their tickets either dropped or reduced.
But in late November, police arrested Casamento after one of the hearings. Police stated in court records that Casamento knowingly swung a door striking Bull Valley police chief Jim Page in the arm as Casamento left the Bull Valley village building.
Prosecutors, however, dropped the charges with prejudice after obtaining security video showing what happened that moment from inside the village building. Page is seen standing near the door as Casamento exits.
Casamento said he was wrongfully arrested and called the experience humiliating.
"If I would have been arrested and there was no video, I potentially could have served a year in jail, a lot of money in fines and I could have lost everything," Casamento said.
After the charges were dropped, Casamento filed a lawsuit against the Village of Bull Valley, Page, and another police officer. He is seeking more than one million dollars in damages.
Both Page and the village administrator declined to comment. NBC 5 Investigates also reached out to the lawyer representing the village in this matter, but did not receive a call back as of Wednesday night.
Page previously said he enforces the failure to display law to prevent theft in the area. He said it has led to arrests of people wanted on other charges. And Page stated if someone explains that they are simply driving an unmarked truck or van with ladders and are doing a job for their grandmother, for example, the ticket will be dismissed.
Casamento said he has also spoken out about the village's overweight truck ordinance, which may have resulted in fines ten times the amount allowed by state law. He said the tickets were made difficult for truck drivers to dispute.
"They're putting them on a local ordinance with no way to contest the ticket," Casamento said.
Casamento said after complaining about the overweight truck enforcement, the village is now correctly writing the tickets.
Page told NBC 5 Investigates in an earlier interview that large trucks taking shortcuts through Bull Valley were tearing up the village roads.
Casamento said he has gained several thousand online supporters regarding his criticism of Bull Valley's ticketing. He said he'll continue helping others challenge the village until there is new leadership.
Meantime, Casamento is being investigated by the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission for practicing law without a license. He denies those claims.