Hobart board suspends pay of patrol officer Homoky
By Karen Caffarini Post-Tribune correspondent February 6, 2013 9:14PM
Hobart police patrolman Kirk Homoky | Provided photo~Sun-Times Media
Updated: March 8, 2013 7:37AM
HOBART — Patrolman Kirk Homoky, who on Monday was charged with three criminal offenses, stopped getting paid as of Wednesday night as a result of action by the Board of Public Works and Safety.
The board approved a request by Valparaiso attorney Dan Whitten that Homoky be placed on unpaid administrative leave pending the outcome of his criminal proceedings.
Whitten, who is representing Acting Police Chief Vance Thompson in the Homoky matter, said the process could take weeks, or months to conclude.
Thompson said Tuesday that he would seek this action, based on Indiana code.
Homoky, who had been assigned to desk duty during an internal investigation, was placed on paid administrative leave by Thompson Monday afternoon. That action took place after the Lake County Prosecutor’s Office filed one charge of theft and two charges of fraud against a financial institution against Homoky in Lake Superior Court.
The charges stemmed from the 37-year-old Homoky reportedly cashing $422.40 in checks from a local business that he was given by mistake a couple of years ago.
City Attorney Anthony DeBonis advised the board that it could approve the police chief’s recommendation based on two factors: Homoky is being charged in connection with alleged activities that took place on his personal time outside his duties as a Hobart police officer and state law allows a police officer charged with criminal activity to be placed on unpaid administrative leave until the case is concluded.
“This was the result of a private action, not something that occurred while he was in the line of duty. Taxpayers shouldn’t have to pay the burden while he awaits trial,” DeBonis said.
“If he is put on leave without pay, the board, in its discretion, may award back pay if the officer is exonerated in court,” DeBonis said.
He added that any challenge to the administrative leave decision must await the decision of the criminal trial.
“There is no impairment to Mr. Homoky’s rights to later challenge these actions,” DeBonis said.
In a letter sent to both Whitten and DeBonis, Homoky’s attorney, Christopher Cooper, said he believes the police officer should be placed on paid leave after the fifth day of suspension since Homoky is now in a criminal process in which there has not been a conviction.
“To suspend him without pay for unproven allegations would not, and does not, take into account that he is innocent until proven guilty. Most important, he is innocent,” Cooper wrote.
DeBonis disagreed on the grounds that Homoky could be entitled to back pay and is entitled to insurance and retirement benefits during the process.
Cooper also pointed out that Homoky has the right to remain silent pending the criminal process, and he has advised him to do so.
Cooper, who has offices in Chicago and Merrillville, filed a lawsuit against former Hobart Police Chief Jeff White, and Detectives Jeremy Ogden and Garrett Cisezweski, charging the officers with misusing their police authority for vindictive and personal reasons. Ogden and Cisezewski had conducted the internal investigation of Homoky.
White had originally asked that Homoky be terminated for insubordination, saying he refused to cooperate during the investigation. Cooper countered that Homoky did not refuse to take a lie detector test as the detectives claimed; he refused to sign off that he was voluntarily taking the test.