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Thursday, Sept. 5, 2019 12:19 am

Sex, lies and videotape

Strange days at ISP

ISP headquarters was a motel for employees charged with issuing FOID cards.
Photo by bruce rushton

 

The ickiness started in 2013, when Christina Hibbert, an Illinois State Police employee assigned to the Firearms Service Bureau that issues firearm owners identification cards and concealed-carry permits, began an affair with Master Sergeant Anthony McClure.

They were not discreet. Someone once spotted McClure standing between Hibbert’s spread legs as she sat in an office chair while he rubbed his crotch. Early on, Hibbert reportedly told a coworker that she and the master sergeant were having sex inside headquarters.

The coworker would later testify that the Firearms Service Bureau was no fun: Morale was low, stress was high, there weren’t enough employees, it was taking more than four months to issue FOID cards that were supposed to go out in 30 days and McClure and Hibbert took lunches as long as two hours. Overtime was mandatory, and some overworked employees didn’t appreciate trysts that were so obvious that when someone once asked another where McClure and Hibbert were, another employee guessed they were probably having sex, according to investigative files.

Before long, the bureau chief asked directly: Are you two having sex? Nope, McClure and Hibbert lied. Four months later, the truth emerged after someone filed a formal complaint. Investigators planted a camera in a conference room and also kept track of the two entering and leaving a room reserved for nursing mothers. The building’s electrician chuckled when brass asked whether he’d noticed anything. Sure, he answered – they’re always behind closed doors.

In less than a month, cameras recorded more than 30 instances of hugging, kissing and intercourse in the conference room; what happened when the two were in the nursing room can’t be known. While cameras rolled, McClure and Hibbert spent more than nine hours engaged in amorous pursuits, as many as four times a day. McClure, who’d already lied about the affair to a supervisor, fibbed again when he was confronted by investigators who, unbeknownst to the master sergeant, had videos: Nope, I haven’t been having sex on the job.

McClure was terminated, but not right away. It took nearly two years before the state police merit board ruled that he was untrustworthy and unfit to be a police officer. In the meantime, the master sergeant worked traffic, according to investigative files.

Hibbert, also, was terminated, but she didn’t go quietly. I’m entitled to breaks, she argued, and there’s no rule against having sex while others smoke cigarettes or sip coffee. After being fired, she sued the state, claiming she had a reasonable expectation of privacy while screwing in state police headquarters. U.S. District Court Judge Colin Bruce dismissed that argument in February, but the lawsuit survives, with Hibbert maintaining that investigators who demanded her cellphone should have gotten a search warrant.

Things get weirder.

When investigators seized McClure’s cellphone, they discovered that he’d been talking about the case with Leann Shirley, a supervisor in the department’s background investigation unit. The department wondered whether she’d improperly accessed files on the case. Shirley acknowledged looking at a file containing a recommendation that McClure be terminated – curiousity got the better of her, she admitted –  but said she didn’t make a copy or tell the master sergeant, whom she considered a friend, about the contents.

In texts, Shirley tells McClure that she’d gotten advice about his case from Jack Garcia, a retired ISP deputy director who now chairs the Illinois State Police Merit Board, and from Ron Cooley, who was then merit board chairman. At the time, Garcia, Cooley and Shirley were all on the board of the Illinois State Police Heritage Foundation, a charity that runs a museum and also built a memorial park for fallen troopers next to police headquarters in Springfield.
The chairman of the merit board that disciplines officers shouldn’t be talking about unresolved disciplinary cases with anyone, and Shirley, despite texts suggesting otherwise, said it never happened. She told an investigator that she’d lied to McClure, explaining that she was only trying to make him feel better. She acknowledged talking to Garcia but said she didn’t think he’d relayed any information from conversations he might have had with Cooley. “I told…Shirley that I found it difficult to believe she made up any of the references to Ron Cooley and the merit board in this text or any of the previous ones discussed because she wouldn’t have the knowledge to make up that information,” a skeptical investigator wrote in a report labeled “sustained,” indicating there was substance to suspicions.

Whether Shirley was punished is a mystery. State police say they can’t release records of disciplinary action older than four years. There is no indication in the investigative file that investigators spoke to either Cooley or Garcia. Cooley tells me that he wasn’t interviewed and didn’t know about the investigation until I called. Garcia didn’t get back to me.

Shirley appears to be in trouble again. In June, she was placed on administrative leave after the Illinois State Police Heritage Foundation removed Shirley from her position as treasurer and reported that more than $80,000 is missing. The feds, I’m told, are investigating.  

Contact Bruce Rushton at brushton@illinoistimes.com.

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