A spokesperson for the Illinois Attorney General confirmed Monday that it was still investigating claims that five men, including Berwyn Public Safety Director Frank Marzullo, were involved in beating a North Riverside man outside a Forest Park restaurant on April 5.
Meanwhile, Forest Park Village Administrator Michael Sturino indicated that charges against the men could be filed as early as today, and said a press conference would be called to announce any such charges.
“When the investigation is complete, we’ll let you know about that,” Sturino said. “We’re still actually doing some interviews.”
A police report obtained from the Village of Forest Park indicated that the beating took place around 11:30 p.m. at the Golden Steer, 7635 W. Roosevelt Road. According to the report, police arrived at the scene to find a group of men standing over another man, later identified as Wayne Pesek, 54, the former North Riverside village administrator.
Among the group of men standing over Pesek were reportedly Marzullo; his son, Jerry; and his brother, Russell. Jerry Marzullo is a former Berwyn firefighter who is currently an attorney in the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office. Russell Marzullo is employed in the City of Berwyn’s Public Works Department.
Typically, the Cook County State’s Attorney approves felony charges in criminal cases. But since Jerry Marzullo is an employee of the state’s attorney, that responsibility has been given to the Illinois Attorney General.
Two other men who were part of the group standing over Pesek when police arrived were not identified.
Frank Marzullo is a controversial figure in Berwyn, where his $164,000 salary makes him one of the highest-paid law enforcement officials in the United States. In addition to heading both the police and fire departments, he is a high-ranking member of the Regular Berwyn Democratic Organization, whose slate of candidates was soundly trounced at the polls earlier on April 5. Jerry Marzullo was an aldermanic candidate on that Democratic slate.
After news of the beating investigation broke last Thursday, Marzullo tendered a letter of retirement to Berwyn officials. His last day on the job will be April 30. Mayor-elect Michael O’Connor, who defeated Democratic contender Michael Woodward, had pledged to fire Marzullo if he was elected.
Pesek was badly injured and was transported to Loyola University Medical Center, where he was placed in the intensive care unit. He was hospitalized for two days, but was later released.
On Monday, Pesek’s mother. Mildred, confirmed her son was out of the hospital but was still making daily trips to Loyola for observation and treatment.
Forest Park police have interviewed Pesek along with a woman who works at the Golden Steer, who was also reportedly punched in the face by one of the men who allegedly beat Pesek.
It’s unclear according to the police report exactly what triggered the beating. Both Pesek and the group of men were in the restaurant for some time before tempers flared. But while trying to gather information from witnesses, one of the alleged offenders repeatedly tried to obstruct officers.
Initially, according to the report, one of the men (whose names are blacked out on the police report) approached one of the officers “in an aggressive manner,” slapped the officer’s hands aside and produced a badge telling Forest Park police, “I’m in charge here. I’m in charge.”
Later, while Forest Park police were interviewing a witness inside the restaurant, a man allegedly tried to intervene. When told he could be arrested, the man reportedly responded, “I am [expletive] staying right here. You can’t do a [expletive] thing about it. … You want to [expletive] arrest me? Go ahead, arrest me.”
Still later, a man reportedly interrupted another witness interview, telling Forest Park officers to “get a [expletive] subpoena if you want to talk with him. He’s not under arrest; he’s leaving.”
Afterward, a man approached one of the officers, reportedly telling him that “the political party that supports him in Berwyn lost the election today. He will be out of a job May 10, 2005.” He also apologized to the officer reportedly saying, “I made a mistake. It shouldn’t have come to this.”