Will Co. (ECWd) -
Robert Breuder, fired President of the College of DuPage may well be one of the largest violators of taxpayer funds we have ever investigated. It was this article that we first exposed the criminal code "720 ILCS 5/33E-16) Misapplication of funds", as it related to purchases that had no public purpose.
Next, we exposed much of the same with U46, the state's second largest school district in this article. It was that article that made this one so easy, because the crimes are no different and in many cases the excuses from the defenders of criminal acts are the same.
Once again we look at another educational institution (D210), and it's "very" clear, illegal spending has taken place. Sadly, it appears our society has been desensitized to what a crime is and we no longer demand these people be prosecuted as criminals.
As a back to reality contribution to citizens that want to understand what the law really says, I will share the same information I shared in previous articles, and you don't have to be an attorney to understand our laws.
(720 ILCS 5/33E-16)
Sec. 33E-16. Misapplication of funds.
(a) An officer, director, agent, or employee of, or affiliated in any capacity with any unit of local government or school district commits misapplication of funds when he or she knowingly misapplies any of the moneys, funds, or credits of the unit of local government or school district.
(b) Sentence. Misapplication of funds is a Class 3 felony.
Each and every educated administrator knows the P-Card or Credit Card is NOT to be used for personal purchases. When they use it for personal purchases they have violated the above-referenced criminal statute.
Some have argued that if they pay it back that makes it OK. No, that is not true! Ask the former Pekin, Illinois Mayor.
The Illinois Supreme Court recently affirmed the conviction of the former mayor of Pekin, Illinois. He was convicted of three counts of official misconduct based upon his use of the city credit card to obtain cash advances for gambling purposes. While the specific fact pattern in this is unique, the legal effects of the case are worth learning. This case could have a reverberating impact on the way that municipal officials in the State deal with public money and credit cards.
In support of our position that P-Card/Credit Card use for personal purchases is illegal, you need not look any further than to the 2015 University of Illinois Business Leadership Conference presentation.
Common Forms of Fraud in Higher Ed – First bullet point on page 3 – Personal purchases on the p-card
One of the “Red Flags”, found on page 18 – Accidental charges of personal expenses, which is exactly what an administrator at U-46 claimed three separate times and I suspect some of the same claims will be made with D210 officials.
Those that wish to opine and make us out to be the bad guy need to know it is not about us, it is about a mindset that has financially destroyed this state, as well as our local government.
With the above in mind and a school district that is $500,000,000.00 in BOND DEBT ($500 Million!), how can anyone justify the spending on P-cards/Credit Cards?
Not convinced it is illegal to use P-Cards/Credit Cards for personal purchase? Our State Constitution, as outlined in the above case, is part of our laws.
Article VIII of our State Constitution
SECTION 1. GENERAL PROVISIONS
(a) Public funds, property or credit shall be used only
for public purposes.
(b) The State, units of local government and school
districts shall incur obligations for payment or make
payments from public funds only as authorized by law or
When an administrator at a school district spends money on a P-Card/Credit Card it can only be done as authorized by law or ordinance. In the case of D210, as pointed out in the Tribune story, many of the charges by former superintendent pension king Lawrence Wyllie were not for public purpose. This spending was done void of any law or ordinance. Although we suspect he will claim some of purchases were to inspire other teachers or administrators, it's clear, many of these purchases had no public purpose, which is also a violation of our State Constitution, which is in fact Official Misconduct, a felony.
And to bring things back to the most basic of legal principals, we turn to Dillon’s Rule.
Dillon’s Rule is derived from the two court decisions issued by Judge John F. Dillon of Iowa in 1868. It affirms the previously held, narrow interpretation of a local government’s authority, in which a state government may engage in an activity only if it is specifically sanctioned by the state government.
- A municipal corporation can exercise only the powers explicitly granted to them
- Those necessarily or fairly implied in or incident to the powers expressly granted
- Those essential to the declared objects and purposes of the corporation, not simply convenient, but indispensable
Many have attempted to claim dinners and dinner meetings are essential to the declared objects and purpose of the corporation (public body), however, they forget the last part of it, which is that such spending must not be simply convenient, but indispensable.
We all know dining out on the public dime is not indispensable and is primarily done as a matter of convenience, in spite of the fact there is no law, ordinance, or anything else that has been expressly sanctioned by the state government allowing it.
Dillons’ Rule also states, if there is a reasonable doubt whether a power has been conferred to a local government, then the power has not been conferred.
One of the most basic questions every public official should learn to ask:
- What statute gives me the power to do xyz? (xyz=what ever action to be taken)
If the public body legal counsel is unable to provide the specific statute, that is the first signal there may be no power conferred. As Dillon’s rule states, if there is a reasonable doubt whether a power has been conferred to a local government, then the power has not been conferred, which means you cannot do it!
Many wish to attack us for taking what they call a hard line on public spending, however, everyone should know that the primary reason we take the position we do is because of the extensive research we have done. After reading more case law than I ever imagined I would read, you actually begin to understand how our laws are supposed to work and be applied.
What do you do when you have evidence of law breaking?
You should report it to the local police or county Sheriff's office. It is my understanding people in this district tried filing a criminal complaint with a deputy at the Sheriff's office and this deputy refused to take the complaint and told them to take it to the school board.
Such an action by a law enforcement officer is neglect of duty and Official Misconduct!
They take an oath to uphold and enforce our laws and refusing to take a citizen's complaint that exposes illegal activity shows us how broken our system is. When our own law enforcement doesn't realize they are supposed to investigate crimes of public officials you may have to nudge them, just as was done with the College of DuPage and their early refusal to take a complaint against the trustees. You can read that chain of events here, here, and here.
We urge the filing of a criminal complaint for the exposed crimes of misapplication of funds at D210 and demand they be investigated. We suspect if it ever gets to the investigation stage, they will have sufficient evidence to prosecute. That brings you to the importance of electing a States Attorney that is willing to prosecute the local public officials when they break the law. Sadly few prosecutors have the courage to take those steps, leaving public officials with a message that it's OK to steal from the public.
Why is it important to prosecute these types of cases? The list is lengthy but let's focus on the financial condition of the state. Wyllie is receiving the largest TRS pension in the state of Illinois which pays out over $300,000.00 a year, tax-free. If he is prosecuted and found guilty of felony acts, that pension is forfeited. That reduces the pension crisis we face in this state. Just imagine if more States Attorney's did their job and prosecuted these crimes we keep exposing. A lot of people would lose their pension benefits and save the taxpayers a small fortune, which in turn would set an example for future employees to refrain from these criminal acts.
(55 ILCS 5/3-9013)
Sec. 3-9013. Pension funds; job-related felony. If an employee who is covered under a retirement system or pension fund created under the Illinois Pension Code is convicted of a felony relating to or arising out of or in connection with the employment for which the employee is covered under the retirement system or pension fund, the State's Attorney must notify the board of trustees for that retirement system or pension fund.
Step by Step:
- Citizen involvement to promote accountability on a regular basis.
- Point out violations of law and demand immediate correction by the public body.
- File criminal complaints on those who violate the law.
- Educate law enforcement on their obligation to investigate those crimes.
- Elect States Attorney's that will prosecute public officials when evidence supports a crime is committed.
Many will look at that list and complain that they should not have to do all that to have our public officials follow the laws on the books. Sadly, as is clearly evident with D210 and the County Sheriff Deputy who refused to take a citizen complaint, these people don't know what the law is, let alone that they must follow it.
That famous response Ben Franklin provided to the question, “Well, Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?”, has real meaning. “A republic, if you can keep it.”
If you can keep it!
You will lose this great country if you do not take steps to keep it, just as one of our Founding Fathers told us. The people are the government and when the people lay down and no longer care to get involved, for whatever the reason, they are contributing to the chaos we face with thousands of local governments and out of control spending, which in many cases, is being done in violation of our laws.
I commend those local citizens that have taken steps to be engaged in their local government and are demanding accountability as can be found below. Theses citizens have taken a great first step to holding them accountable. (signatures redacted)
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