Plainfield park commissioner found guilty in battery case
By Janet Lundquist email@example.com October 8, 2013 6:40PM
Updated: November 10, 2013 6:38AM
A Plainfield Park District commissioner was found guilty of battery Tuesday for physically attacking a campaign volunteer from an opposing camp during a state Senate race last November.
Peter Steinys, 56, who had not yet been elected to the park board at the time of the offense, was fined $300 and put on a year of court supervision by Will County Judge Joseph Polito after a two-day bench trial.
Reached Tuesday through his attorney, Paul Napolski, Steinys declined to comment on the decision.
Steinys initially was charged with violating Plainfield’s local battery ordinance after a late-night scuffle on the eve of the Nov. 6 election, when a campaign worker from the opposing campaign claimed Steinys hit him with a vehicle door and chased him while cursing him out.
Steinys claimed he was acting in self-defense.
According to trial testimony, volunteers for former state Senate candidate Garrett Peck and Peck’s opponent, Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant, both put out campaign signs near Feeney Road and Route 59 in Plainfield the night before the election.
Michael Carlin of Morris — a Joliet firefighter who said he volunteered to work for the campaign of Tarrant, the eventual winner — testified that he put pro-Tarrant signs there about 10 p.m. so voters would see them early on Election Day. He said he returned to the intersection about 11:30 p.m. to check on the signs, and found they had been cut with a knife and tossed into a nearby field.
By the light of vehicle headlights on Route 59, he noticed a man wearing all black lying in a ditch on the other side of the road, Carlin testified.
Carlin crossed the road to confront the man, and told him that only Tarrant’s campaign had permission to put signs there, Carlin testified.
The man in black, Carlin said, cursed at him and said he had permission to put Peck’s signs there, too. Carlin testified that he cursed at the man and went back across the street to call a campaign manager.
Carlin said he confirmed that only Tarrant’s campaign had permission to post signs there, and he went back to confront the man, who by that time had gotten into a vehicle driven by Steinys.
When he told the men to remove the Peck signs, Carlin said Steinys then shoved open his car door, hitting him. Carlin claimed Steinys then swore at him and threatened him.
Steinys allegedly grabbed Carlin by the arms, and Carlin twisted away and began to run, he testified.
“I could hear him running after me, still swearing, announcing how he was going to kick my ass,” Carlin testified.
Steinys gave up the chase at the urging of the man in black, Carlin said. Meanwhile, Carlin called 911.
Steinys, who was elected as a park board commissioner in April, later helped install the candidate he was backing, Garrett Peck, as the Plainfield Park District’s new executive director.