Weather Updates

Police union boss on payroll of big Rahm Emanuel campaign donor

Michael K. Shields president Fraternal Order Police also is payroll major campaign contributor Mayor Rahm Emanuel scheduling security for General

Michael K. Shields, president of the Fraternal Order of Police, also is on the payroll of a major campaign contributor to Mayor Rahm Emanuel, scheduling security for General Iron Industries. | Brian Jackson~Sun-Times

storyidforme: 47444496
tmspicid: 17684026
fileheaderid: 7975152
Article Extras
Story Image

Updated: May 16, 2013 6:06AM

One of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s biggest campaign contributors has the president of the Fraternal Order of Police on his company’s payroll — a relationship that’s come to light as Emanuel and the union try to negotiate a new contract for 10,400 Chicago cops.

The connection between Emanuel donor Howard Labkon and FOP Lodge No. 7 President Michael K. Shields is spelled out in a court case in which Shields got an order of protection last year against an FOP lawyer he said threatened his family after the union stopped giving him business.

Labkon and his family have been major campaign contributors to Emanuel. Altogether, they and their companies have given $156,500 to Emanuel campaign funds, plus another $50,000 to the mayor’s inaugural committee, records show.

Labkon employs Shields and his brother, Officer Daniel J. Shields, to schedule security workers for General Iron Industries, his family’s scrap-metal recycling company on North Clifton, records show.

The Shields brothers came to work for the Near North Side business through their father, Joseph Shields, a retired police lieutenant who has been involved in security with General Iron for about 20 years, according to Dennis Culloton, a spokesman for the company.

The Labkons haven’t discussed the FOP contract talks with Emanuel, Shields or aides to either man, Culloton says.

John Kupper, an Emanuel campaign spokesman, says the Labkon connection has had zero effect on the police contract talks.

“Shields has been one of the mayor’s most outspoken critics,” Kupper says. “Whatever relationship the Labkons might have with Shields, it certainly hasn’t redounded to the mayor’s benefit.”

The order-of-protection case stemmed from the police union’s decision to drop Daniel Q. Herbert, a former Chicago cop and Cook County prosecutor, as one of its go-to lawyers for police officers facing possible disciplinary action. The FOP paid Herbert’s law firm $692,032 in 2011, according to the union’s most recent tax filing, and $559,939 the year before.

Union members elected Shields, a police officer, as their president in March 2011.

Little over a year later, the union’s leaders dropped Herbert, informing him they “would no longer be using his services” as the result of “a number of different disputes with the FOP,” according to a lawsuit the union filed to retrieve files from Herbert.

In the separate case involving the order of protection, Shields said Herbert reacted angrily to losing the FOP work. Between March 28 and March 30, 2012, Herbert left “insulting and provocative” phone and email messages at the union office, Shields said. He said Herbert called on the night of March 31, 2012, and told him, “I’m coming over in 10 minutes — tell your family to stay the f--- inside the house because it’s gonna be loud.”

Shields didn’t call 911, court records show, instead sending a text message to a friend in the Police Department — Officer Nicholas J. Hertko, a 16th District tactical officer who was on duty that night.

“I felt that I would get a faster response if I sent a text to an officer in the district where I reside because the 16th District is undermanned,” Shields says.

Hertko said in a sworn deposition that he knew Shields because the union president “has the security contract with General Iron,” and Hertko also works security for the company.

“I met Mike in 2003,” Hertko testified on June 19, 2012. “Michael’s older brother, Dan, he was a member of the tactical team which I was on. He had a side-job position and offered it to me, and that’s when I — that’s where I met Mike. Mike runs security scheduling at General Iron.”

Herbert’s lawyer, Thomas P. Needham, asked Hertko: “Is that owned by Howard Labkon?”

“Howard is one of the owners, yes,” Hertko answered, adding that, from time to time, he delivered General Iron paychecks for Shields and his father to Shields’ house in Edgebrook.

Hertko said he was on his dinner break with his sergeant, Randall Hiller, at a North Side restaurant on March 31, 2012, when he got Shields’ text after 9 p.m.

“The guy is coming over to my house in 10 minutes,” Hertko said Shields told him in the text message. “What should I do? Should I call 9-1-1?”

“I’ll stop by,” Hertko said he told Shields, not asking who “the guy” was.

Hertko said he already was planning to go to Shields’ house to pick up a subpoena that Shields had asked him to deliver “for the FOP” to a woman named “Carol” whose last name he couldn’t recall. “I think it was for a divorce or something,” Hertko testified. “I’m guessing.”

Shields says that’s not exactly right: “I asked him to serve a subpoena for a friend, but it’s not related to FOP. And it would be inappropriate to discuss it further.”

By 9:30 that night, Hertko and Hiller were at Shields’ house. Hertko said he parked his police car about 50 feet from Shields’ front door and got out. He said he hadn’t told Hiller about Shields’ text message, and Hiller stayed in the car.

Hertko said he saw Herbert — who had once represented him in a police disciplinary case — standing nose-to-nose and swearing at Shields, “saying that Mike had taken . . . food out of his kids’ mouth by firing him.”

Hertko said he shook hands with both men and that Shields gave him the subpoena. He said Shields kept asking Herbert to leave, and when he didn’t, Shields “put his hands on him, pushed him and told him to leave.”

Hertko said he told Herbert to “just let it go.”

He said Herbert continued to yell at Shields, who was “visibly stressed from the situation.”

Shields — whose home-security system caught the confrontation on video — called an FOP staff lawyer and decided to file a police report. Hertko went back to his car, explained to Hiller what had happened and sent a message via his car’s computer to send a beat cop to Shields’ house. “I sent the message, and I left the scene,” Hertko testified.

He said he delivered the subpoena to the woman “a couple days” later, then brought the signed copy back to Shields.

Shields told the beat cop who took the police report on the confrontation that Herbert said to him, “I’m f---ing going to kill you and your family.”

On April 4, 2012, a judge granted Shields a “civil no-contact stalking order” against Herbert, but that ended when the two men reached an undisclosed settlement on July 25, 2012. The FOP’s lawsuit seeking case files from Herbert was dismissed the same month.

Herbert declines to comment, other than to say, “Although I have many thoughts about these false allegations and frivolous suits, I will refrain from comment and continue to keep this person in my rearview mirror.”

In a May 15, 2012, letter to the union that was entered in a court file, Herbert said of Shields: “The president has provided various false reasons for the termination of our business relationship. He has told members that I was terminated because I reeked of alcohol and threatened to kill his wife and kids. He has told others that I was fired because I was double billing. Both accusations are false.”

Shields says of the union’s dropping Herbert: “The FOP had many reasons for letting go of Dan Herbert. . . . I can tell you that the FOP, after considerable thought, concluded that it needed legal counsel with a different approach. Instead of using a single law firm, we now retain several different lawyers — from all different backgrounds. Besides the extra expertise, the competitive nature of lawyers helps us keep our costs down.”

© 2014 Sun-Times Media, LLC. All rights reserved. This material may not be copied or distributed without permission. For more information about reprints and permissions, visit To order a reprint of this article, click here.