By Jim Hagerty
ROCKFORD – A settlement has been reached in a lawsuit brought by Sheriff Gary Caruana earlier this year against Winnebago County, County Board Chairman Frank Haney and Treasurer Susan Goral.
Caruana filed the complaint March 29, asking the court to order the Winnebago County Board to restore funding to his department’s 2019 budget. A settlement was reached in July. Orders were entered Thursday before Judge Stephen Balogh dismissing the sheriff’s lawsuit and Judge Lisa Fabiano amending the appointment of a special prosecutor.
The Winnebago County Board has approved a resolution to accept the settlement and the associated budget amendment. The agreement requires the board to restore a budget amendment of $1.7 million, funds that will used to hire 24 deputies. In turn, Caruana agreed to dismiss his complaint.
“I am pleased that our Winnebago County leaders have been able to work together collectively to resolve the issues,” State’s Attorney Marilyn Hite Ross said in a statement.
The settlement marks the end of nearly two years of contention between the sheriff and chairman. The suit was the result of $4 million in cuts to the sheriff’s budget which left the sheriff’s office, jail and courthouse understaffed to the point where Caruana said he could not effectively do his job.
Caruana is in his second term. He was re-elected last November.