Lawsuits against 113A officials filed by prospective school board members, current board member

Lemont, IL

Alleging financial mismanagement that resulted in the loss of $12 million in taxpayer money, lawsuits were filed Friday against former and current members of the board of education in Lemont-Bromberek Combined School District 113A.

The two suits, filed by the Center for Open Government at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, claim between 2007 and 2010, school board members engaged in or aided illegal spending, then took steps to conceal the expenditures.

One lawsuit was filed on behalf of Laura Reigle, Duane Bradley and Louis Emery, all of whom filed candidate petitions Dec. 13 for the April 5 consolidated election. There are four open seats on the District 113A Board of Education.

 The second was filed on behalf of current school board member Janet Hughes.

Listed as defendants in the lawsuits are: 113A Superintendent Tim Ricker, assistant superintendent Mary Gricus, former district treasurer Robert Beckwith, current school board members John Wood, Lisa Wright, Sue Murphy and Kevin Doherty.

Also included was former school board members Gwenn O’Malley, David Leahy, Al Albrecht, as well as Lloyds Illinois, Inc., a former insurance broker for the district and Knutte Associates P.C.– the district’s former accounting firm who handled the district’s financial audits from 2007 to 2010.

The suits claim Knutte Associates facilitated the concealment of expenditures.

Clint Krislov, of Krislov & Associates, said district board members approved spending in excess of $3 million annually above the district’s appropriations. To do this, the lawsuit alleges, board members approved illegal transfers between district funds.

“They made transfers that were not documented and used funds that were supposed to be for other purposes,” Krislov said Friday. “There are specific prohibitions on transferring between funds without documentation. If you keep spending in excess of your appropriation you could run out of cash.”

In an e-mail sent to the Lemont Reporter/Met Saturday morning, 113A Board of Education President Lisa Wright declined to comment.

"As this involves litigation - and we have not yet seen or been served the actual suit - no one from the District has or will have a comment," Wright wrote in her response.

According to the suits filed in Cook County Circuit Court, “the defendants have either engaged in, aided and abetted, or liably permitted a pattern of spending district money beyond the amount of legal appropriations, and concealing these expenditures by draining funds legally appropriated for other purposes all in violation of Illinois law.”

The suits allege that between 2007 and 2010, the defendants “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.”

If the court rules in favor of the plaintiffs, all current board members could be ordered to forfeit their offices and pay up to $10,000 in fines, according to the statutory provisions listed in the suits.

Furthermore, they would be liable for any sum illegally diverted from the working cash fund, according to the complaint.