Veteran Huntley Detective Named McHenry County Officer of the Year

Det. Joe Willard receives honor from the McHenry County Chiefs of Police Association.


Huntley Det. Joe Willard was named McHenry County Officer of the Year by the McHenry County Chiefs of Police Association for his tenacity and skill in cracking two serious cases in Huntley.

Willard investigated a major insurance scam involving a local insurance agent, Russell Palermo, taking payments from customers but not writing a policy. Numerous business and residential customers thought they had insurance but did not, according to a release from the association.

The complex investigation turned up additional victims and required Willard to review several file cabinet of documents and computer files that were seized from the insurance agent. The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation assisted with the investigation.

Willard uncovered an elaborate scheme and his work led to 33 charges against Palermo.

In another case, Willard investigated a residential burglary where cash and a .30 revolver were stolen from a home. He worked quickly to positive identity all the suspects involved and learned the gun had been sold to an Elgin gang member. Willard worked with Elgin police to locate the gang member and confiscate the gun before it was used in a crime.

Willard was able to get 20 charges filed against four offenders in the case.

“Detective Joe Willard’s ability to give maximum effort to every detail of this complex case prevented many of our citizens from suffering serious financial problems. Even though they were scammed out of insurance premiums, the situation could have been much worse if there was an incident requiring an insurance claim. Both of these cases demonstrate the tenacity that Detective Willard put into his work,” said Huntley Police Chief John Perkins. He is also president of the McHenry County Chiefs of Police Association.

The 2nd Annual McHenry County Officer of the Year ceremony was held at the Bull Valley Golf Club in Woodstock. There were eight nominees from six McHenry County police agencies. The nominees included:

Officer Amy Bucci, Algonquin Police Department

Officer Kathy Eiring, Cary Police Department

Officer Jason Williamson, Cary Police Department

Officer Jason Draftz, Lake in the Hills Police Department

Detective Craig L’Esperance, McHenry County Sheriff’s Office

Detective Jennifer Garafol, McHenry County Sheriff’s Office

Detective George Kopulos, Woodstock Police

Pam Fender January 14, 2013 at 01:58 PM
Congratulations Det. Willard!! You have made your town proud! A very professional honor. Congratulations to the entire department and the town of Huntley.
Greg in Huntley January 14, 2013 at 02:15 PM
Now, if they could only crack the burglary ring that has been plaguing Huntley's Sun City area for well over a year now.


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