Will Co. deputy trying to unseat sheriff

October 27, 2010 2:54:30 PM PDT
What may have normally been a sleepy race for county sheriff is now injected with emotion and allegations in Will County.

That's because the incumbent sheriff has presided over a department hit by trouble handling high-profile cases.

Will County Sheriff Paul Kaupas is facing a challenge from one of his own deputies, Democratic candidate Pete Piazza. The two men used to attend birthday parties for each others' kids-- now they are far from friendly.

"The Will County public has lost faith in the sheriff's office," said Piazza.

Piazza is blasting his boss, Will County Sheriff Paul Kaupas, and is now running to replace him.

"Will County is a good county and has a lot of good people," said Piazza. "It's when people fall in love with that thing right there -- getting on camera all the time -- that's the problem."

Sheriff Kaupas has been front and center during a series of high-profile arrests gone wrong.

  • In 2004: Days before the local prosecutor's election, sheriff's investigators said Kevin Fox killed his daughter. Months later, DNA proved he didn't.
  • In 2006: A pre-election raid that led to identity theft charges against a dozen motel owners fell apart when the sheriff's informant developed credibility problems.
  • And earlier this month: Police and prosecutors charged Lynwood cop Brian Dorian with a state-line shooting spree. Days later they released the officer when his alibi checked out.

"I had nothing that told me it wasn't him, but I wasn't convinced it was him," said Paul Kaupas, (R) Will County sheriff.

The sheriff insists making big busts before elections is not part of his plan. Neither is having those cases crumble.

"I was pretty much just kidding around and said I didn't care if we found Osama bin Laden, we'd keep it quiet 'til November 3," said Kaupas. "I mean, it just happens, and I don't know why it happens. I really don't."

Kaupas says he deserves credit for bringing in outside consultants to examine where investigators went wrong. He says overall crime in the county has dropped 12 percent on his watch.

Democrat Piazza says he'll restore confidence in the county sheriff's office.

"We have a lot of good people, and they're ashamed of some of the stuff that's gone on," said Piazza.

Piazza's resume says he was the chief investigator assigned to the Will County state's attorney's office from 2004-2009. The sheriff says Piazza was involved in the botched investigation and arrest of Kevin Fox for the murder of his daughter Riley. Piazza angrily denies it.

If Sheriff Kaupas wins a third term, he says it will be his last.


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