ATLANTA, IL. (ECWd) -
This article is to explain the steps we believe were used by Trustee William Thomas and the other Atlanta Public Library District Board of Trustees to, in our opinion, pilfer and scam the State of Illinois out of grant funds. We could also make an argument this applied to all grant funds from private organizations, except for the one requirement contained within the grant application with the Secretary of State.
You can read our previous articles on the Atlanta Public Library (here) if you are interested.
DECEMBER 18, 2014:
*Library enters into a Contract for Deed for Union Hall:
The Library holds a special meeting, where the agenda (page 1) only lists, under "Old Business" the item "Union Hall Project" was listed, but no mention of any action or voting to take place.
The Minutes (page 2) reflect the "purpose of this meeting was to discuss the Union Hall Project" and then later the minutes reflect the need to "move forward" with the project in order to apply for grants, and in particular, the "Live and Learn Program" from the Illinois Secretary of State. "This grant is due by January 1, 2015," the Minutes state; "A preliminary contract has been drawn up in order to apply for the grant. This contract will be null and void if grant money is not received for the project." A motion was made and second to move forward and authorize a contract for deed for the Union Hall Project.
Trustee Bill Thomas was involved in this meeting and discussion, but "abstained" on the vote. According to the Public Library District Act, Section 30-50(c), "Absentees and Abstentions from voting shall be noted but shall not be counted for or against the question being voted on." The board followed this statute with this vote.
However, they did not follow the Open Meetings Act, nor did they follow the Public Officer Prohibited Activities Act. Without listing an item to be acted or voted on, the public was never made aware, prior to the meeting, of the actions to be taken by the public body. Section 2.02(c) of the Open Meetings Act requires that agendas "set forth the general subject matter of any resolution or ordinance that will be the subject matter of final action at the meeting."
The actual "Contract for Purchase" was discussed in an earlier article, Atlanta Public Library district inked $200,000 Union Hall installment purchase contract in Dec 2014. the key things to remember about this "contract" are:
- the self-serving requirement to lease space back the Bill Thomas
- the failure to make even one payment towards this "contract"
- the statements made during the meeting that the contract would be null and void if no grant funds were obtained
- the "special provision" of automatic termination after 60 days of no payments
- the complete failure of Bill Thomas to comply with the Public Officer Prohibited Activities Act - Sections 3 and 3.1
*John Yates enters into a Contract for Deed for Union hall:
According to a later Quit-Claim Deed (pages 4 and 5) notarized on February 3, 2016 and filed at the Logan County Clerk's office on July 17, 2017, John Yates entered into a Contract for Deed on the same date that the Library entered into one, for the same real estate, and from the same owner of the real estate. This Quit-Claim Deed states that it has been held in escrow by the title company pending John Yate's failure to comply with the December 18, 2014 term, conditions, and agreements between Yates and Teleologic (Thomas).
Does this mean that Thomas and Teleologic effectuated two separate Contract for Deed documents on the same day, to two separate parties, and for the same property?
Keep reading, it gets better...
JANUARY 9, 2015 - the Grant Application:
Grant application for the Secretary of State's Live and Learn Program was submitted by the library.
The completed application is located HERE.
Trustee Bill Thomas was intimately involved in this process and in this project. He obtained the required letter form the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency.
REQUIREMENTS to obtain the State grant:
- "Deed of Ownership or Proof of Long-Term Occupancy" is required for accessibility and remodeling (page 5)
Within the application, it states the long-term plan was developed in 2013 with the decision made at that time to purchase the Union Hall and remodel it. It mentions entering into a 20+-year contract for deed purchase of the Union Hall building (page 9).
The project would be managed by the Library's Facilities and Environment Committee - a committee Bill Thomas is a member of.
According to the Contract for Deed (page 39):
- Library was to make monthly payments of $1,211.96. No payments were ever made
- Bill Thomas inserted a self-serving prevision forcing the library to give him the right to remain in the building as tenant
- Thomas was to take the payments to Heartland Bank and Trust Company to pay the mortgage he had on Union Hall
- "Purchase" price was $200,000
- 4% simple interest
- Automatic default if payment late by 60 days (remember the Dec 2014 special meeting minutes where it was stated that the contract would be null and void if no grant funds were received)
- Library did not use an attorney in this contract - Thomas used an attorney for his own interest
Additionally, there was no appraisal to be found in any of the purchasing documents, and no inspections found (other than the accessibility inspection). There is no way of knowing the value of the property other than what the county assessor listed it's value as, which was less than $50,000.
We believe this grant application to be fraudulent, and this contract for deed to be a scam in order to obtain the grant. the December 2014 special meeting made it clear the contract was easily voidable, the Library never even made the first payment towards the contract for deed, we could not find any lease payments back to the library for Thomas' occupancy as tenant, and this contract was replaced a few months later with a lease agreement to an entirely different person.
We believe the sole purpose of the "Contract for Purchase" was to meet the grant requirements (on paper), without any intention of following thru with the contract as written. We also believe Bill Thomas used this building and several grants to remodel the building, in order to sell it at a later date to the library when the building might appraise for the $200,000 he was trying to get out of it - because it certainly did not appraise for that amount in 2014, or at least an appraisal was never completed prior to the library entering into the contract.
Continued in part 2...