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Plainfield Township- Self dealing opens investigation, termination pending

Will Co. (ECWd) –

It is not often we get to write about situations as those taking place in Plainfield Township as it pertains to officials taking proactive steps to investigate and act upon our identification of wrongdoing. This is the first of what will be a multi-part series as to how good governance is supposed to work when malfeasance is identified.

This multi-part series is also an example as to why public officials should never put their guard down when it comes to protecting the taxpayer’s interests.

Over a month ago we were tipped off about alleged self-dealing by the Township Administrator, Andi French. That tip led to our filing multiple Freedom of Information Act requests and from that point, the floodgates of information have been streaming in from multiple sources.

A phone call from Township Supervisor Tony Fremarek resulted in an ongoing dialog regarding numerous problems we confirmed as being violations of Township policy as well as Township law and most likely criminal laws.   It would appear, the first points of concern we shared have been confirmed and action is being taken. A request for comment pertaining to our first article on a long list of malfeasance resulted in the below comment from Supervisor Fremarek.

“Once myself and the board became aware of these serious issues, we began our own internal investigation into these matters.  We placed Mrs. French on Administrative leave and have begun to look into all matters for which she is responsible.  We find these matters to be unacceptable and a misappropriation of the trust that the board placed in Mrs. French, and by extension, the trust that taxpayers placed in her.” 

The Township is having a special meeting this evening and according to the agenda, it appears the Township Administrator Andi French may be terminated and a replacement appointed.

So what has Ms. French done that led the board to act?  For starters in this series, free storage.  This is a boat owned by her husband Gene French, confirmed by the registration of the license plate shown below. A copy of the registration paperwork can be found at this link.  

Apparently, the French family believed it was within their power as employees of the Township to take space in a Township building to store their summer recreational vehicles.  As if the boat storage was not enough, jet skis are also part of the free storage being capitalized on in township buildings.

It would be interesting to know what storage space for these types of vehicles would have cost to better understand how much savings went into their pocket by not having to pay any rent to store their toys.  It is our understanding this practice has gone on for several years.

 

 

 

 

 

 

According to our Illinois State Constitution, under Article VIII Section 1, Public funds, Property, and Credit shall only be used for a public purpose.  It is clear, storage of personal property on Township property is a violation of our State Constitution.  We provided this alleged criminal activity to the Will County Sheriff’s office, however, have not heard if they ever paid any attention to the information provided.

The Constitution can be used as the predicate for Official Misconduct, which is a felony in this state – if you don’t believe us, just ask the former Mayor of Pekin, Illinois – he was convicted and the Supreme Court upheld his conviction.

“We hold that a violation of the constitution can serve as a predicate unlawful act for the purposes of the official misconduct statute. Accordingly, the indictment against defendant in this case, alleging a violation of article VIII, section 1(a), of the Illinois Constitution, was sufficient. As such, we affirm the judgment of the appellate court.” Illinois Supreme Court in People v. Lyndell W. Howard, 2008

The next series on Plainfield Township will expose the self-dealing Andi French was involved with as it relates to her private company doing business with the Township.

Questions presented to Ms. French have gone unanswered as of this publication and if we ever do get a response we will share that information in future articles.

We have been informed the private property has been removed.

This situation is not uncommon in Illinois as the most recent was exposed in Oakland Township in this article where the elected officials were engaged in the self-dealing.

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15 replies »

  1. I want to know what Willard and Fremarek got out of the deal with the 2013 building purchase at 15014 S Des Plains St.

    $700,000 seems quite steep for a building that was in the early stages of foreclosure. Not to mention the property taxes lost acquiring a building that was generating revenue at the time. Why weren’t other structures that were not on the tax rolls in Plainfield explored? I believe the current assessor was the only one raising that question, but she was silenced. A long time Plainfield resident who’s business went bankrupt and who was falling behind on payments with the bank got bailed out suddenly by a taxpayer purchase. Who was the owner of the building? Who was the bank? Was it a coincidence that a current IL State Rep was the realtor on the deal? All of these things are independently verifiable for those who are willing to look.

    Finally, who “owned” the “construction company” that completed hundreds of thousands in renovation on this newly acquired facility? I think Andi French was the loose end that takes the fall. Tied up nice and neat with a newly installed replacement of hers to “investigate.”

    What happens to the others?

    • Oh it gets much worse. The audits and financial statements online are HIGHLY inconsistent and have mistakes and omissions in 2013 and early 2014. Someone needs to get over there, because I bet they’ve been shredding documents since this leaked.

      Spending $700k for a building and renovating at the tune of over $1.3 million?! Wasn’t the issue with renovating their current building that $1.5 million on a renovation “just was not feasible?”

      This is a MAJOR PROBLEM.

  2. What is so amazing to me is the claims that everyone knew of this particular issue but no media covered it? If so many knew, why didn’t anyone contact the media or the police?

    • These are the types of things that happen when the police chief is a politically appointed position put in place by the same group operating in this manner.

      You have been told about, and covered, other aspects of this group within plainfield on different boards, and wrongdoing has been easily exposed when it comes from an outside source doing the investigating.

      Giving the police chief information is no assurance anything will be done. It required CBS to break the news about the illegal dumping the village was ‘letting pass’ for years. Local press did nothing until after the CBS story aired. People who went to the police were informed by the police chief that “we only act on reports filed by residents of the village”. Can you imagine being told that? That while reporting a crime to the police within the village, the police will dismiss it because the report of a crime taking place inside the village isn’t coming from a resident of the village. Does it matter that the complaint was filed against a resident of the village with strong ties to this same group of people? Justice was eventually served, but only because the county prosecutor acted after the CBS report, not because of local law enforcement taking any action on it when they were informed many times previously.

      Come on. You know how this works. Why are you defending this board and their claims of innocence? At BEST, they are all incompetent for being oblivious to the status of their property and finances – and that deserves no praise.

  3. Oh, great–Clerk Willard resigned that spot to be made new Administrator for $70,000 a year. For a part-time jog. Maybe he won’t keep Andi French’s schedule, which I understood to be a dependable Monday through Thursday, 9a-12p. Wait, I can’t think that even 40 hours a week at this job should be compensated at 70K. That seems high for the work entailed.

  4. Correction to previous comment: I just dug out notes I had and the boat storage thing happened TWO years ago, in mid-November of 2016. I guess no one at the township was in a hurry to do things right and honestly.

    • Once we knew about it and confirmed it, we contacted authorities to take action, to include law enforcement. Who did you contact two years ago when you knew of the wrongdoing?

  5. Not sure if ECW is trying to put lipstick on the pig that is Tony Fremarek’s “leadership” as Supervisor for the past few years, but it sort of looks that way. Either that, or ECW is being played a bit.

    Let’s be clear: Fremarek and his cohorts at PT, all members of Plainfield Township Republican Organization, are NOT heroes fighting corruption that just came to their attention. Further, they cannot make what I suspect will be the play and blame a dead man for this–they will try to say that Sam Reichert, who was Highway Commissioner up until his death a few years ago, was the person who was asleep at the wheel, who let this happen. I would believe he was involved, but no one is going to get away with pinning this on him because he so conveniently isn’t around to refute anything.

    Tony Fremarek the current Supervisor and most responsible party even though I think other Trustees were well aware of this fiasco, KNEW, for a fact, about that boat and jet-ski storage problem– a LOT of people did, here in Plainfield–just over a year ago, when it happened. So, who knew what and when did they know it? Has Ms. French been on administrative leave for this pretend-to-be brave and transparent investigation since that one corrupt incident a year ago? No? Please explain yourselves, elected officials of Plainfield Township.

    The storage situation happened a year ago, so where has Plainfield Township been on this all this time?

    Also, I see that Clerk Chuck Willard is resigning suddenly tonight–is he the only one who feels confident enough of his swimming skills to jump off this ship while the jumping is good?

    Hypocrisy is really annoying.

    • We reported on what our investigation found. There is PLENTY more to come. So far, it appears the biggest problem, which is not uncommon in local government, the elected officials placed their trust in a person to follow the law and by all indications it appears the person broke that trust.

  6. Not sure if ECW is trying to put lipstick on the pig that is Tony Fremarek’s “leadership” as Supervisor for the past few years, but it sort of looks that way. Either that, or ECW is being played a bit.

    Let’s be clear: Fremarek and his cohorts at PT, all members of Plainfield Township Republican Organization, are NOT heroes fighting corruption that just came to their attention. Further, they cannot make what I suspect will be the play and blame a dead man for this–they will try to say that Sam Reichert, who was Highway Commissioner up until his death a few years ago, was the person who was asleep at the wheel, who let this happen. I would believe he was involved, but no one is going to get away with pinning this on him because he so conveniently isn’t around to refute anything.

    Tony Fremarek the current Supervisor and most responsible party even though I think other Trustees were well aware of this fiasco, KNEW, for a fact, about that boat and jet-ski storage problem– a LOT of people did, here in Plainfield–just over a year ago, when it happened. So, who knew what and when did they know it? Has Ms. French been on administrative leave for this pretend-to-be brave and transparent investigation since that one corrupt incident a year ago? No? Please explain yourselves, elected officials of Plainfield Township.

    The storage situation happened a year ago, so where has Plainfield Township been on this all this time?

    Also, I see that Clerk Chuck Willard is resigning suddenly tonight–is he the only one who feels confident enough of his swimming skills to jump off this ship while the jumping is good?

    Hypocrisy is really annoying.

    • How come you didn’t report this if you were aware of it prior to the report? I’ve heard you like to think of yourself as some sort of Plainfield watchdog.

      • Another comment answering this same question from ECW is pending, but I did tell others about having heard this and other bad acts were being committed, but local Republicans circled their wagons and shut it out and I didn’t have things like what ECW has, photos, etc. to bolster my information and take it to media and law enforcement, to force anyone to work harder on this.

        You’ve heard wrong. I don’t fancy myself as anything but a citizen, taxpayer, and voter from Plainfield. What it sounds like you actually heard was that someone else thinks of me that way, since you never heard that from me, right?

  7. Are we supposed to believe nobody at the township was aware of this the entire time it was going on?
    Only when it was pointed out by a whistleblower did anything begin to change.

    The leadership at the township either turned a blind eye to this going on, or were completely unaware of it. Either option means it is time for some new faces at this township.

    • Agreed. Wouldn’t part of the key jobs at the township, including but not limited to Supervisor and Administrator, be to walk the property and report (truthfully) in on condition and use, etc.? That’s even without having been told, as the township was two years ago, that someone’s personal (and LARGE) property was being stored there.

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