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Lawsuit Alleging Illegal Spending Refiled Against 113A Administrators, Board Members

The amended complaint was filed Monday in Cook County court.

A $12 million lawsuit alleging illegal spending and concealment was refiled Monday against administrators and board members in .

Filed on behalf of attorney Clint Krislov of Krislov and Associates, the lawsuit claims District 113A officials "engaged or aided in illegal spending, and then took steps to conceal expenditures by draining funds legally appropriated for other purposes, all in violation of Illinois law," which allegedly resulted in the loss of $12 million in taxpayer money, the complaint said.

According to the lawsuit, the alleged misconduct took place from 2007 to 2010.

The lawsuit was filed in conjunction with the Center for Open Government at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law.

Plaintiffs in the case are former District 113A Board Member Janet Hughes and Lemont residents Laura Reigle, Duane Bradley and Louis Emery. According to court documents, they are filing the suit as a derivative action— "in the name and for the benefit of the School Board District 113A." 

Listed as defendants are District 113A Supt. Tim Ricker; Asst. Supt. Mary Gricus; former Business Manager and Treasurer Robert Beckwith; current Board Members Lisa Wright and Kevin Doherty; and former Board Members John Wood, Sue Murphy, David Leahy, Gwen O'Malley and Al Albrecht.

Also named as defendants are Lloyds Illinois Inc., an insurance broker that entered into a school treasurer's bond with Beckwith and Knutte Associates, an accounting firm responsible for the district's financial audits from 2007 to 2010.

The newly filed complaint is an amended version of a lawsuit . The previous version of the suit by Cook County Judge Rita M. Novak, who ruled that the complaint could be refiled with more particularity as to each defendant's actions, and whether they are being sued in their personal or official capacity.

Each of the defendants are being sued in his or her individual capacity, Krislov said in the complaint.

According to the documents filed Monday, the plaintiffs are alleging that District 113A board members and employees "repeatedly caused monies from the district's working cash fund to be diverted or otherwise used in violation of law and without proper notice having been given to District 113A taxpayers."

The lawsuits claim that the district's financial statements from 2007 to 2009 show the district spent more than $3 million more than was authorized in the board-approved budgets. The board's spending practices have resulted in a loss of approximately $12 million in taxpayer money, according to the claims.

The lawsuits also allege that the accounting firm Knutte and Associates, which performed audits of the district's financial statements for fiscal years 2007 to 2009, was aware of the legal violations and aided in wrongdoing by providing clean audits of the district's financial statements. According to the files, "the effect of these audits was that the illegal misspending, overspending and illegal transfers described above were concealed."

Also named as a defendant was Lloyds London, the insurance firm that entered into an agreement with the district's business manager, Robert Beckwith, in 2005. As a surety, Lloyds is obligated to pay damages to District 113A should the court find that Beckwith violated the law in his management of district funds, said Terrance Norton, director of the Center for Open Government.

District 113A attorney James Petrungaro was not immediately available for comment.

Nora Waliczek September 01, 2011 at 01:24 AM
Casey, I agree with you also. Self serving is a big problem in our country, but it isn't Janet Hughes, Laura Riegle, Duane Bradley or Louis Emery.They have had the courage to speak out against a wrong doing to the citizens and children of SD 113-A.
Dorothy Rosier September 01, 2011 at 05:08 AM
Let's wait for the outcome before we determine it is a waste of time. I agree with these people in finding out the truth and bringing honesty to our city and funds to help our children.
Dave Maher September 01, 2011 at 12:56 PM
Dorothy, Didn't we already do this. Isn't it true that the states attorney investigated and isn't pressing charges? Didn't the courts already dismiss the case saying it wasn't a criminal act? How many times will it take for you to feel that the truth was brought to our city?
Quizzical September 02, 2011 at 11:13 PM
Actually if you read in the article above "The newly filed complaint is an amended version of a lawsuit originally filed by the plaintiffs in December. The previous version of the suit was dismissed in July by Cook County Judge Rita M. Novak, who ruled that the complaint could be refiled with more particularity as to each defendant's actions, and whether they are being sued in their personal or official capacity." I read that to mean the original lawsuit must not have been specific enough in accusations, but could be re-filed. The lawsuit was not dismissed based on a determination of guilt or innocence . The judge actually did the plaintiffs a favor by giving them information on how to make their "case" more airtight . The people being sued have had many opportunites to speak up and have failed to do so. If a lawsuit is what it takes to find out the truth about the financial crumble of SD113A, then sadly that is what it will be. I don't want want to know "who" did "what", I just want to know "what" really happened with our finances. Fortunately, we know that in the USA the accused in the lawsuit of innocent until proven guilty. My hope is that these folks will be found innocent and that our financial problems were due to errors or incompetence and not foul play.
Quizzical September 02, 2011 at 11:16 PM
sorry I missed something when I re-read before I posted "Fortunately, we know that in the USA the accused in the lawsuit of innocent until proven guilty. My hope is that these folks will be found innocent and that our financial problems were due to errors or incompetence and not foul play. What I meant to say was:.- the accused in a lawsuit is innocent until proven guilty.
Susan Antonoff September 03, 2011 at 12:21 PM
Cathy, I'm confused...quoted from the article above, "The previous version of the suit was dismissed in July by Cook County Judge Rita M. Novak, who ruled that the complaint could be refiled with more particularity as to each defendant's actions, and whether they are being sued in their personal or official capacity. Each of the defendants are being sued in his or her individual capacity, Krislov said in the complaint." Quoting you, Cathy, "The judge actually did the plaintiffs a favor by giving them information on how to make their "case" more airtight ." Why then would the plaintiffs deliberately ignore a directive from Judge Rita M. Novak and refile against the defendants in his or her “individual capacity”, instead of what the judge requested in the complaint as in his or her “personal or official capacity”? I am not a student of law, but is that the same thing?
Dwayne September 22, 2011 at 01:26 AM
@ Susan: No. There wasn't enough weight on the criminal charges to be brought against the defendants. Whether now or not there is sufficient evidence to proceed "civily" is another question. Did the defendants mislead the public in their official capacity is not a criminal charge. @ Cathy: Whether or not "who" did "what" in SD113A with the finances, is not what's going on here. Look at the plaintiffs. All four of them are election losers. They weren't elected to the school board so, for them to run again, they have to keep their names out there in the public. If they win, hopefully they won't, where do you think the money is going to come from. If the district is already in financial shambles, do you think they're going to be able to pull the $12 million out of the sky? The onus is on the plaintiffs to prove this, not the defendants. By the way, elected officials are immuned from lawsuits, that's why they, the defendants, are being sued not in there official capacities.
Dwayne September 22, 2011 at 01:27 AM
Let me just say this, we are all adults. Let's start acting like one. The name calling, the pointing of fingers at each others, the inuendos, everything must stop now! I only have lived in Lemont for four years. Prior to this I lived in Proviso Township. This was the reason why that I moved. GROW UP and ACT LIKE ADULTS!

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