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Local News

Pension board approves disability benefits for Carol Stream paramedic involved in lawsuit

CAROL STREAM – A paramedic accused of not following proper protocol during a choking incident that led to a woman's death will now receive disability benefits from the Carol Stream Fire Protection District.

The district's Pension Board unanimously voted Thursday to provide Carey Zabran with a non-duty disability pension and to seal Zabran’s records for confidentiality purposes.

The family of Armida Nonneman, an 81-year-old woman who died in August 2012 after Zabran allegedly tried to intubate her with food still stuck in her throat, filed a lawsuit against Zabran earlier this year for not following proper protocol.

Cary Collins, attorney for the pension fund, said Zabran filed for psychological disability in July 2013 and will receive checks dating back from Aug. 1, 2013, until now.

“You can receive benefits from the day you filed or the last day you received a check,” Collins said. “She’ll continue to receive the checks until she’s no longer disabled.”

Zabran is technically still an employee of the Carol Stream Fire Protection District, but she is not on the payroll, he said.

“If found fit to return to duty, then we can contact the chief and say she’s prepared to return,” Collins said.

Zabran's attorney, Jerry Marzullo, declined to comment at the Pension Board meeting Thursday.

The lawsuit filed Feb. 7 initially named the village of Carol Stream as well, stating the village “willfully and wantonly breached its duty” when Zabran responded to the call.

However, Carol Stream was wrongly named in the lawsuit and has since been dismissed in the case, Village Manager Joseph Breinig said.

“The parties involved realized we’re not the fire department; we’re two separate taxing bodies," Breinig said. “We don’t employ paramedics or train them.”

This incident has been part of other personnel discussions within the Fire Protection District as well.

Battalion Chief Joseph Gilles was suspended from the district in September 2013 for what he says was refusing to keep quiet about negligence within the district related to Nonneman's death.

Gilles’ lawyer, Aldo Botti, said Chief Richard Kolomay is trying to fire Gilles for several reasons relating back to the choking incident.

“He believed the chief should’ve told the family what really happened, and they didn’t,” Botti said. “I think the district is mistreating a dedicated public servant.”

However, the district has cited the reasons for seeking Gilles' termination as performance deficiencies, such as his weight and accusations he was sleeping at work.

Several hearings have taken place regarding Gilles' employment status. Closing arguments are scheduled for Sept. 17, Botti said.

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