His neighbors are looking forward to a peaceful summer after Evergreen Park Trustee Dan McKeown was found guilty of disorderly conduct and sentenced to five months of court supervision last Thursday for repeatedly honking his car horn in front of their houses in the 9300 block of South Sacramento Avenue.
While a judge referred to McKeown as a “bully,” it appears that his status on the EP board is still secure.
Mayor James Sexton would not comment on the sentence, and said it would not jeopardize McKeown’s position on the Village Board. “It appears to be a neighbor problem and I believe they are working to rectify it,” he said.
But a judge was not so kind.
“In this court’s opinion, we see you as a bully,” Fifth District Presiding Judge Raymond Jagielski told McKeown before handing down the sentence for the misdemeanor charge. He also charged him court costs, which amounted to $99. Jagielski had found him guilty of the misdemeanor charge in a bench trial on May 19 after hearing six hours of testimony from neighbors in the case that dates back to his arrest last July.
Jagielski said that McKeown could have received as 30 days in jail, but because this was his first offense, and his prior good work in the community, court supervision was appropriate. Now midway through his first term as trustee, McKeown is the comptroller of Keyser Industries in the village where he has lived for more than 35 years.
Two of his neighbors who brought the complaint, Keith and Barbara Krummick, were in court for the sentencing. Barbara Krummick said she was satisfied that the court supervision was for a “significant amount of time.”
Another neighbor, Margaret Michalak, who testified against him at trial, and called his behavior “outrageous,” said she wished it was a little longer.
“I’m glad he got convicted, because that is the only way he will learn a lesson,” she said.
The Krummicks live a few doors away from McKeown while Michalak lives across the street.
Both families said their troubles with him began after they complained about petty harassment from McKeown’s son, who also lives on the block and was a village police officer at the time.
Barbara Krummick said she had to install security cameras to record evidence of McKeown pestering them, adding that more neighbors were willing to testify, but were told they were not needed. Asserting that the case involved more than car-honking, she said she appreciated the judge taking the case seriously.
During his trial, McKeown denied honking to antagonize the neighbors. He maintained that he was signaling his grandchildren, who live on the block, or the horn just sounded when he used his remote control to unlock the vehicle. But the neighbors asserted it was obviously done just to harass them.
“As I’ve said before, do we really see criminals here? In today’s world, these are minor offenses. But is this the type of behavior you want to be known for?” Jagielski asked McKeown.
After finding McKeown guilty, Jagielski asked McKeown and his neighbors to attend a mediation session led by Sexton, which was held May 28. The judge said the most important issue is to find a way to put an end to the animosity between neighbors.
While Keith Krummick said he believed “baby steps were made” at the mediation session, Michalak said she did not appreciate Sexton saying the “tit-for-tat” actions between the two sides should end, implying the neighbors shared responsibility for the problem.
“We never retaliated against him,” she said.
“I think we’re headed in the right direction. Turning a negative into a positive (is the goal),” said McKeown’s attorney, Craig Miller, who said Sexton stressed the need to be a good example to the children and grandchildren. Just before the sentencing, he said the case “involved a lot of good people, and it just got out of hand.”
McKeown let Miller do most of the talking at the sentencing. “I would like to concur with my attorney. I want to move ahead and get past this. It has only been a week (since the mediation) and I’ve done what I was asked.”
He declined comment as he left the courtroom.
Jagielski said the only requirement he is asking of McKeown while under court supervision until Nov. 5 is to “act like a gentleman” at all times. He said that was the same rule he had to live by during four years at Wabash College, an all-male school in Crawfordsville, Ind.
“You have an opportunity to take this and use it as a positive, and I hope you do,” said Jagielski, explaining that if he follows the rules, McKeown’s record could eventually be expunged.