Westville trooper heard in tape setting up ex for ticket

Westville trooper heard in tape setting up ex for ticket

DANVILLE — Vermilion County jurors listened to recordings Monday of an Illinois state trooper telling a Tilton police officer exactly where and when his ex-girlfriend would be driving so he could pull her over and write her a ticket.

It was all part of a personal vendetta for breaking up with him, prosecutors told jurors on the first day of the bribery and official misconduct trial of trooper Keith Lumsargis.

"I'd say no later than quarter to eight," Lumsargis is heard telling Tilton Officer Ryan Schull in a secretly recorded conversation on May 16, 2014.

According to the tape, he explained that Mary Bailey would be driving a certain color and make of car between 7 and 7:45 a.m. on Catlin-Tilton Road and Schull could cite her for speeding or obstructing her windshield because she had items hanging from her rear-view mirror.

Lumsargis is also heard spelling out for Schull his ex-girlfriend's license plate number.

The recording was one of a handful between Lumsargis and Schull that were played for jurors on Monday, the first day of testimony in the trial of Lumsargis, 46, a 13-year veteran of the state police, who is accused of bribing Schull with a steak dinner in exchange for ticketing his ex-girlfriend.

Lumsargis has been on unpaid administrative leave since his arrest in May 2014.

Most of the first day of testimony was devoted to Schull, including text messages between Lumsargis and the Tilton officer.

Defense Attorney Michael Zopf told jurors in his opening argument that there will be statements over the two days that will be open to interpretation, noting that there's a difference between stated words and intent. He also told jurors that they must decide whether the recorded conversations fit the legal definition of bribery and misconduct.

According to Schull's testimony, the ordeal all started in January 2014 with a face-to-face conversation with Lumsargis at the Tilton police station when both were on duty.

Lumsargis told Schull he and his girlfriend were breaking up.

"He seemed pretty upset about it," Schull said.

That's when Lumsargis asked him to pull over his girlfriend and give her a traffic citation, according to Schull.

Over the next few months, Schull said Lumsargis continued encouraging him — mostly in text messages but sometimes by pulling his squad car next to his while both were on duty.

'Hope someone gets her'

Prosecutors showed jurors copies of texts that included a description of Bailey's vehicle, license plate, times she would be driving on specific roads and what citations Schull might be able to write.

In one, he texts a range of time when Bailey would be drinking at a specific restaurant and that Schull could pull her over for driving under the influence and child endangerment, because she would be picking up her daughter later.

In another text, he encourages Schull to "spread the word" to other officers as long they can "keep it quiet."

In another, Lumsargis texts, "I hope someone gets her."

Schull testified that he never had any intention of stopping or citing Bailey and added that he would respond to Lumsargis by saying things to appease him.

But in April, according to Schull, the situation became more serious when Lumsargis told him to come outside the Tilton police station to talk with him, and he again encouraged Schull to pull over Bailey. Soon after they parted that day, Schull said, Lumsargis texted him with the message, "I'm not asking. Get it done."

Schull said he took that as a personal threat and worried that Lumsargis might target him or his family members in traffic stops.

In one of the recorded conversations, Lumsargis is heard laughing as he tells Schull how he pulled over Mary Bailey's best friend and cited her for speeding, but he didn't know it was her until he had already stopped her. He tells Schull that he got her "fair and square."

"I didn't want him to retaliate against me or my family like he was trying to do with Mary Bailey," Schull said when questioned about why he felt threatened.

Immediately after the "get it done" text, Schull said he reported everything to his supervisor, Tilton Police Chief Steve Cornett. It was then reported to the state police's internal investigation unit.

'Whatever you want'

State police launched an investigation that involved Schull turning over all the text messages between him and Lumsargis and wearing a wire on his body to record in-person conversations.

In one of those, Lumsargis can be heard saying, "Whoever gets her, gets a steak dinner."

At the direction of state police investigators, Schull wrote a fake ticket to Bailey for obstructing her windshield. Then, while wearing the recording device, Schull found Lumsargis while they were both on duty and showed him the ticket.

Lumsargis can be heard in the recording laughing, saying, "I bet it just (ticked) her off," and later says to Schull "whatever you want," in reference to taking him out for a dinner. The two then discuss where and when they'll dine.

Testimony is expected to wrap up today with the prosecution calling more witnesses in the morning followed by the defense putting on its case.

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skm1962 wrote on November 08, 2016 at 9:11 am

He pulled me over for no plausible reason, then got me on a "no seatbelt ticket".  I had removed my seatbelt after he stopped me to retrieve my registration out of my glovebox.  When I politely argued with him that he was wrong, that I had been wearing my seatbelt, he got lippy and said "well, I guess you aren't wearing it now are you?  You can fight the ticket, but I'll win...."

Buh bye, jerk! Hope you get the maximum penalty!

Melissa918 wrote on November 08, 2016 at 12:11 pm

Let's hope the only tickets he issues in the future are receipts from his job at Mickey D's.  If Mickey D's will have him.