FBI executes warrant to search NIU police station - Chicago News and Weather | FOX 32 News

FBI executes warrant to search NIU police station

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

A small army of state police, FBI and federal agents descended on the Northern Illinois University campus Wednesday, part of an ongoing criminal investigation.

They won't say what they're looking into, but recent news stories provide some clues, which point to the campus police department—which is under new leadership after a messy scandal.

As NIU police made their rounds on campus protecting against crime, their headquarters was taken over by dozens of cops searching for a crime.

"We received no prior notification," says NIU spokesperson Brad Hoey when asked if the University knew they were coming. "They showed up."

Hoey says they were as surprised as anyone when dozens of federal agents and state troopers bearing search warrants arrived at the campus public safety building this morning.

Among the agencies involved: the FBI, Illinois State Police, Federal Housing and Urban Development and the Federal Department of Education. Agents spent hours inside the building.

A source tells FOX 32 they were searching computer and phone records and interviewing campus police.

"The university is cooperating fully with this matter," Hoey says. "According to the FBI the activity is not, and I want to repeat, it's not in any way associated with public safety concerns."

Just last month, the university fired its longtime Campus Police Chief Donald Grady, following allegations Grady withheld evidence that would have helped a campus police officer who had been charged with sexually assaulting a student. A judge slammed the NIU police for mishandling the investigation.

In 2008, Grady was hailed as a hero for his handling of a shooting on the NIU campus that left five students dead.

Grady's Madison, Wis.-based attorney, Michael Fox, said in a phone interview Wednesday that an investigation that the chief launched into an off-the-books repository for proceeds from the sale of university-owned scrap metal may have contributed to his dismissal.

Fox said eight NIU employees and one former employee were criminally charged in the case Oct. 16.

However, Fox had no information on the FBI raid, saying it could be related to Rifkin or the scrap-metal investigation, or something entirely different.

"Without equivocation, he (Grady) denies wrongdoing in any of these matters," Fox said.

Fox added that he didn't believe Grady's handling of the sexual assault case was the sole factor in his firing and that it could have been "retribution" for his investigation into the scrap-matter scheme.

A message left at a residential number for Grady wasn't returned Wednesday.

Rifkin's attorney, Bruce Brandwein, said he had been in court when the Wednesday morning raid took place and couldn't immediately comment about whether it was connected to his client's case.

On Wednesday, students walking to class were surprised to see their police feeling the heat.

"At first, I was a little scared," says NIU student Asmat Kahn. "I didn't know what was going on. But a lot of the professors said it's not really that big of a deal."

"It's a little concerning but I still love Northern," says student Kristy Saylor. "I think our school's still gonna be okay."

The FBI wouldn't say much else besides that the search is part of an ongoing criminal investigation. A lawyer for fired Campus Police Chief Donald Grady told FOX 32 News that Grady did nothing wrong and doesn't know why the feds and state police descended on DeKalb.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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