STANFORD, IL. (ECWd) –
This is a story of a Village, or maybe an attorney, who appears to have tried to take the easy way out of a problem by allegedly filing false paperwork with the McLean County Recorder’s Office.
Thanks to local Bloomington, IL. investigative journalist Diane Benjamin, of BLNNEWS.com, this information is now in ripe for publication:
After reading several sets of Village of Standford meeting minutes, there appears (several years after the temporary easement) to be a push to provide village services to an inconveniently located piece of property for the owner’s development.
Back in 2010, the village needed a place to drain storm water to and chose a piece of real estate situated in the right area for their needs, with the property owner willing to allow a “temporary easement” for the village to construct their runoff and reseed the grass when work was complete.
In this process, the meeting minutes of October 21, 2010, reflect discussion of “temporary easements” for drainage purposes. In item number 7, this temporary easement was discussed by Tony Zwanzig and Minnie Atkins, who was advised by the board that the village’s attorney would prepare the “temporary easement” agreement for her to review and possibly sign.
The Veselak Temporary Easement
On July 30, 2010, the Veselaks signed a document entitled “TEMPORARY EASEMENT” – not only is that the name at the top of the document, but it is also part of the file name of the document on the attorney’s server: “veselak temp storm drainage easement.doc”
The Temporary Easement title was referenced in the document several times in its header, paragraph titles and within paragraphs. However, in the last sentence of Paragraph H, there is mention of it being “permanent, perpetual, and shall run with the land.”
But in the very next paragraph entitled “DURATION OF EASEMENT” it clearly lists a termination date “the Easement shall terminate on 31 day of October 2010.”
No problem, the “temporary easement” was signed by the real estate owners, and later signed by the village representative (McGrath) on December 9, 2010, for the Transfer Tax Stamp statement.
Everything goes smooth…for about five years.
McGrath Law Office Filed “Scrivener’s Error” Document Five Years Later
More than 5 years later, when the village wants to use the real estate again, the Village of Standford’s Attorney, Mr. Mark J. McGrath from McGrath Law Offices of Mackinaw, Illinois, file a document sworn to under oath as true and correct, using his position as Attorney-at-Law to apparently file a document capable of defrauding the real estate owners of their rights, obligation, and powers as property owners, which were altered, created, transferred, or terminated (click for Illinois Criminal Code’s definition of Forgery).
By its very definition, a Scrivener’s Error is an inadvertent error, as in transposed numbers, misspelling, etc. – The Doctrine of Scrivener’s Error says that if the error effects property rights, it must be approved by those affected by it (no citation).
In McGrath’s sworn-to Scrivener’ Error document, he mentions that “all references to “temporary” and “TEMPORARY” were and are no part of the easement, that each and every one of the easements that were granted was a perpetual easement…and that the Grantors understood that the easement was a perpetual, not a temporary easement.” He further states under oath that “As the easements state, there was and is no termination date for any of the easements.”
From looking at Paragraph “I” on page 3 of the TEMPORARY EASEMENT document (click here) it specifically lists the Easement termination date of October 31, 2010. So McGrath’s sworn statement of there being no termination date is patently false.
It is our understanding that there are three other properties similarly situated.
The Appearance is of Forgery and Fraud Against Land Owners
The appearance of this is one of fraud and forgery against the land owners who had previously thought the easements were temporary, but find out that five years later an allegedly fake document was filed against the property without them even being notified of its existence.
It is apparent that Mr. Veselak was unaware the easement was not temporary, and in McGrath’s own words (read them here), verifies the thoughts of Veselak: “I am in receipt of your email….[in which] you stated that you were revoking your standing offer to dedicate a drainage easement to the Village.” – There would be no need for a “standing offer” if he had thought the easement was permanent. McGrath goes on to remind him of the purported “permanent easement” (as a result of the Scribner’s Error document) from 2010 and tells him he has no lawful authority to demand the village quit using the property.
Mr. McGrath was asked for comment and as of publication has not answered the request.
Jim VeselakPosted at 13:55h, 14 September
Great job reporting this. It’s not right in Illinois or at least McLean Co. someone can file a false claim to the property claiming rights to it without the owners knowledge. It took five years and was found out by chance. HAVE YOU CHECKED YOU PROPERTY TITLE LATLY?????
Theodore HartkePosted at 23:06h, 14 September
My name is Ted Hartke 217.840.1612 [email protected] Please forward my name and contact information to the landowner affected by this easement which appears to be fraudulent. I have some suggestions for this landowner so that he/she may take corrective action against the “illegal taking” or “land grab” by this certain village attorney. There is no way the attorney’s actions should go unchallenged.