Will the Real Thomas J. Smrt please stand up!

The February 14, 2002 Edition of The Daily Herald reports:

Thomas John Smrt, 73, of 10014 S. Grant Highway, Marengo, turned himself in to Cary police at 10 a.m. Feb. 6 on a McHenry County warrant for simple assault and battery, according to a police report. The incident occurred on the 600 block of Industrial Drive

Two months later (April 21, 2003) The Daily Herald reports:

Cary businessman Thomas Smrt may not be an ideal boss, but that doesn't make him a criminal.

That was the ruling last week from a McHenry County judge who acquitted the 74-year-old Marengo man of two misdemeanors stemming from his treatment of a former employee.

Smrt, who owns Cary-based Fox Valley Systems, was charged last year with battery and disorderly conduct following a Sept. 18 run- in with former worker Deborah Powers.

According to the allegations, Smrt threatened and screamed at Powers, then grabbed her arm while taking away her time card.

However, during a one-day trial last week, Smrt attorney, Mark Uteg, argued his client never threatened Powers, but engaged in a verbal dispute not uncommon between worker and boss. As for the time card, Uteg said it was company property and Smrt had every right to take it.

In her ruling, Judge Sharon Prather scolded Smrt for his behavior, calling it "ungentlemanly." But ultimately, she said, he did not commit a crime.

"I would suggest in the future you be more careful in how you treat your employees," Prather added. "Your actions may not be criminal, but nonetheless, if this happened, they were not appropriate."

Last week's acquittal does not end Smrt's legal woes. He is scheduled to return to court June 23 for a pretrial hearing on misdemeanor battery and assault charges stemming from a confrontation with another former employee last year.

That worker, Kathleen J. McLemore, is suing Smrt as a result of that incident.

The Roller Coaster ride isn't over yet!

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