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Darien employees file notices of claim

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GINA R. HEINE
February 27, 2009
— Nine village of Darien employees and a retired employee have filed claims for damages against the village and Walworth County, saying hidden cameras found in village offices violated their Fourth Amendment rights.

Police Chief Steve DeVoy and the village violated the employees’ rights by “arranging for a warrantless, covert video surveillance of village office space,” according to the claim filed Feb. 18 with the county clerk.


The Fourth Amendment is intended to guard against unreasonable search and seizure.


Filing a notice of claim within 120 days of an incident is required by Wisconsin law to be able to file a lawsuit later.


The claims are a result of the Dec. 1 discovery of two video surveillance cameras and an external hard drive at the village office, 20 N. Wisconsin St. Clerk of courts and part-time secretary Peggy Moran “informed the clerk’s office that there were wires coming out of an artificial plant basket located on the top of her desk area,” according to the claim.


“Video surveillance equipment was installed by a part-time officer of the Village of Darien at the directive of Village of Darien Police Chief Steve DeVoy individually or with the assistance and cooperation of Walworth County Sheriff’s Department deputies,” the claim states.


Filing the notice were: Superintendent of Public Works Gregory Epping, water department and public works employee Michael Michalek, water department employee Edward McLernon, water department and public works employee Michael Veley, administrative assistant Mary Schneider, deputy clerk/treasurer Dean Abel, clerk of courts and part-time police secretary Peggy Moran, village administrator/clerk/treasurer Marc Dennison, police Sgt. Michael Maltese and retired clerk/treasurer Constance Machi.


The notices seek an undetermined amount for attorney fees and costs, witness fees and costs and psychological injury, pain, suffering, humiliation, loss of reputation, violation of rights and other damages.


The Darien Village Board will discuss the claim at its meeting Monday, March 16. Village attorney David Danz said he would recommend the board deny the claim.


The county board will take up the issue at its Tuesday, March 10, meeting and is expected to refer the claim to the executive committee.


The claims are another chapter in an ongoing situation related to the cameras. DeVoy was suspended shortly after employees found the cameras. He remains suspended with pay.


The village board is scheduled to meet in closed session at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Darien Public Library, 47 Park St., Darien.



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