La Grange police station. (Pioneer Press / Chicago Tribune)
A former La Grange police officer has been charged in connection with exploitation of a disabled person.
Steven C. Kneifel, 47, of 165 Shadowbend Drive, Wheeling pleaded not guilty Oct. 17 to the charges of official misconduct, financial exploitation of an elderly person or person with a disability, forgery and theft, according to the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office.
The state’s attorney filed criminal charges against Kneifel following an investigation by the Illinois State Police. Kneifel is accused of committing official misconduct, along with the criminal charges filed, according to a statement from the village of La Grange.
The complaint shows the charges stemmed from a grand jury that met from about April 1, 2013 through March 1, 2015, and allege that Kneifel was in a position of trust or confidence with the victim and had a legal or fiduciary relationship with the victim.
The complaint states that Kneifel made or altered checks that drew on the victim’s bank accounts on a series of occasions, at various times and in various amounts that ranged from $100 to $13,000, from April 5, 2013 through Oct. 11, 2015. The complaint alleges that Kneifel withdrew a total of $65,836 from the victim’s accounts at three different banks.
The complaint also states that as a sworn police officer he “knowingly committed an act which he knew that he was forbidden by law to perform.”
Kneifel was an active police officer with the village from January 1997 until November 2013, when he took a leave of absence. Kneifel was on a leave of absence when the village was made aware of the allegations against him. Kneifel never returned to service as a police officer or any other position for the village, according to the village’s statement.
La Grange officials said they have reviewed records and concluded that no other public complaints of a similar nature were levied against Kneifel, and there were no other public complaints of a similar nature involving any other police officers. The Illinois State Police subsequently confirmed that no other village employees were being investigated.
“My current staff consists of men and women who do their jobs with honor and distinction,” La Grange police chief Renee Strasser said Tuesday. She declined to comment on any details of the charges.
“The village of La Grange does not tolerate this kind of conduct and we believe this is an isolated case in an otherwise honorable department of law enforcement professionals,” said Village President Tom Livingston. “We apologize to the victim who is among our own community and will continue to work with others to pursue justice in this case.”
The village will continue to monitor the proceedings and review further actions appropriate within its own jurisdiction pending the outcome of the case, according to the village statement.
Kneifel’s next court date is at 9:30 a.m. Dec. 14 in Room 207 of the Circuit Court of Cook County, 26th and California, Chicago.