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Hearing set for on-duty phone sex allegation

  • Written by Dermot Connolly

An Oak Lawn firefighter who is being investigated for possibly engaging in on-duty phone sex is going to be called to testify at a hearing scheduled for Jan. 7 at a firehouse in the village.

Oak Lawn Village Manager Larry Deetjen said on Tuesday that Fire Chief George Sheets undertook the investigation after a financial review by an outside firm called in by the Oak Lawn Firefighters Union “substantiated reports that there was a misuse of large sums of money” by an individual over the past year.

Deetjen said the money in question came from union dues.

The investigation came to light at a Dec. 17 hearing in Bridgeview Courthouse on a petition for an emergency restraining order that firefighter Robert Lanz had filed. Lanz, a former head of the firefighters union, is being investigated for possible on-duty phone sex, officials revealed in court.

The village manager said Lanz, whom he did not refer to by name, filed the petition for the emergency restraining order, which a judge rejected on Dec. 17, after Sheets asked him to produce his credit card and cellphone records in order to get to the bottom of the discrepancies.

Sheets had originally planned to interrogate Lanz on Dec. 18 but Lanz’s attorney, Patrick Walsh, argued at the hearing that Lanz was given less than two weeks to schedule the interview date, and his union representation would not have been available.

According to published reports, the village manager said in a sworn statement referenced at the Dec. 17 hearing that many of the unsubstantiated charges “were for services provided by two businesses” that he later learned “provide phone sex services."

In court on Dec. 17, Walsh argued that Lanz was given less than two weeks to schedule the interview date and that his union representation wouldn't be available by the deadline.

Walsh also argued that there was no precedent to compel Lanz to turn over the credit card and phone records, dating back to 2012. He said doing so would violate his right to privacy under the Illinois Constitution.

Deetjen said Lanz will be able to have union representation and legal counsel attorney at the Jan. 7 hearing, to be held at Fire Station 2, 6451 W. 93rd Place. He said the village will have the work records to show when he was supposed to be on duty, and they can be cross-checked against the dates of the calls in question.

“He will be placed under oath and the chief (Sheets) can complete his investigation,” said Deetjen.

“Only after the investigation is complete, will we determine whether appropriate action should be taken,” said Deetjen.

“At this point, it is an investigation. Whether any of this conduct took place while he was supposed to be on duty, that is our focus,” said Deetjen, who said he would not comment further until after the hearing.