Local Editorials

Our View: Brettman's past speaks for itself

Orville Brettman, 70, ran for a District 6 seat on the McHenry County Board.
Orville Brettman, 70, ran for a District 6 seat on the McHenry County Board.

Orville Brettman has long said he can’t recall statements he made to a Cook County grand jury regarding his involvement with a paramilitary organization dubbed the “Legion of Justice” that staged several break-ins and even bombed a church in the name of fighting communism in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Now we no longer need to rely on Brettman’s failing memory. 

A transcript of Brettman’s testimony – filed in response to his defamation lawsuit against the Illinois Integrity Fund, County Chairman Jack Franks and more – spells out exactly what he said at the time. In it, Brettman details how he planned and participated in numerous break-ins, and even after he became a Carpentersville police officer in 1971, continued to associate with people involved in criminal activity. In fact, Brettman knew about their plans to plant a bomb at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Elgin and did nothing to intervene. 

The man who Brettman said planted the bomb later fled to Rhodesia, a former state in Africa ruled by a tiny minority of white people, engaged in an active civil war against black nationalists.       

Brettman also says that he was aware of and part of the group’s plans for all of the break-ins it took credit for through 1971.

Brettman knew what his group was doing was illegal. He admitted in that testimony that, when he became a member of the Carpentersville Police Department, he left the Legion because “I considered it to be a conflict of interest on my own part to participate on one hand in activity even though they may have been sanctioned that were certainly not totally legal.”

For years, he’s attempted to deny it ever occurred. Perhaps he didn’t believe the grand jury testimony would ever become public. As of Tuesday, he believed it was still sealed.

By testifying in front of the grand jury, Brettman was granted immunity from prosecution. But the record is clear on what he did and when.

That despite his lawsuit against Franks and the Integrity Fund, which claims that the Northwest Herald’s story before the election was not true, along with stories from the 1970s from the Elgin Courier, Washington Post and New York Times.

Those reports on the matter, as proved again by the transcript, are all true.

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