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Plainfield Township; $69,951.80 in self dealing – Investigations continue

Will Co. (ECWd) –

Over the past 2 years, we have written about numerous townships and exposed more self-dealing than I thought was possible, and it appears, Plainfield Township is not much different than many of the others as it relates to having problems, but much different as it relates to dealing with them.

It became clear early on in our investigation that there was a lot going on that the Board may not have been aware of as it related to their Township Administrator, Andi French. We first exposed self-dealing and possibly criminal activity in Plainfield Township back in November in this article where the Township Administrator was storing her personal watercraft.

The Township Supervisor and the Board of Trustees appear to have been very proactive since our first publication. Ms. French is no longer employed with the township, a criminal investigation was initiated, and now they are moving forward on a forensic audit as suggested by the State’s Attorney. Her immediate resignation was covered in this article and this article outlined numerous other questions that have yet to be answered.

As a note of comparison, the Algonquin Township Road District has tried to have a forensic audit performed and the board of trustees has refused.  Amazing how in one township they move proactively to identify potential fraud, yet in another they take steps to prevent possible exposure of it.

Ms. French is the owner of a company called Professional Development Inc. According to records we requested and possibly the cause for a forensic audit, Ms. French has invoiced the Township for $69,951.80 since January of 2014 for things such as construction, debris clean up, modifying curbs, asphalt repair, carpet shampoo, painting, janitorial service and even installation of door stops for $350.00. Part of that total includes $150.0 paid to her husband, Eugene French, to set up a wireless printer.

So as the Administrator for the Township she was able to invoice the township and get paid to do work that in some cases was actually performed while she was getting paid as an Administrator according to our sources at the Township.  I guess that is taking double dipping to a whole new level…if it were legal.

You can view her invoices here, and here.  An interesting issue is she has billed twice for the same service for November and December of 2014.  Two separate invoices, different amounts for the same description, and different invoice numbers.

While there are several other interesting charges to the Township, the services she invoiced for was done in violation of the Township Code as employees are not permitted to do business with the Township.

60 ILCS 1/170-15(c) No director or employee of the township shall be directly or indirectly interested (i) in any contract, work, or business of the township, (ii) in the sale of any article whose expense, price, or consideration is paid by the township, or (iii) in the purchase of any real estate or property for or belonging to the township.

Billing points to possible bigger problems for Ms. French as one invoice is for “roof repairs”, of which in Illinois only a licensed roofer can perform.  We found no record of any roofing license with the Illinois Department of Professional & Financial Regulations for her company, or her individually.  Performing roofing without a license is potentially a Class A Misdemeanor as outlined in the Illinois Roofing Industry Licensing Act.

A search of the Will County Clerk’s database resulted in no Statement of Economic Interest filed by Ms. French, which is required by the Illinois Governmental Ethics Act.

Additional points of concern are those proverbial Gift Cards.  According to the records the Township provided, they have no clue of the amounts or actual recipients of at least thirty-three gift cards allegedly provided to the Salvation Army for them to distribute.

However, a bigger concern is the fact the Township had no accounting of the approximate $7,740.00 in gift card receipts ranging from gas cards, phone cards to visa cards, for which we have evidence of.  Receipts in our possession will be turned over to law enforcement and the Township.  In order to avoid any interference with a criminal investigation, we will not be disclosing those records at this time.

The township produced receipts only totaling $410.00 in Walmart Gift Card purchase and they have no idea who received them or why.  The purchases of gift cards appear to have all taken place with Township credit cards.  Reviewing numerous credit card statements it appears credit card purchases need to be included in the forensic audit to identify what public purpose they had, along with the Gift card issue for which they are missing records.

We will keep you posted on any further updates on this matter which we hope will include identifying if this Eugene Fench is the same Eugen French billing the Township for services.

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7 replies »

  1. The more I mull this article over, it seems that now the “watchdogs” bear a little watching.

    Specifically, this looks to be shining up the Plainfield Township management and elected officials, not calling them out for their involvement in any fraud committed. Make no mistake: for fraud to be committed, leadership above and around French would have to be responsible, to be involved. Yet, this article doesn’t even mention the NAME of the Township Supervisor, Tony Fremarek, which frankly even a simple news story on any topic would do as a matter of course. That’s a salient detail.

    Then there’s this galling phrase: ” in one township they move proactively to identify potential fraud”. Nope! In Plainfield Township, they moved to either be lazy and stupid in executing their duties or they moved proactively to steal money with friends and then try and escape their liabilities. Those are the two choices, period.

    So, who are Edgar County Watchdogs, the self-named IL Leaks (she typed, rolling her eyes), out to help? Looks more and more–at least in this case–like they want to help some political friends, with some collateral help brushing up against the taxpayers and voters.

      • Why? What’s the point of anyone having patience in this? Either ECW knows and has more to tell, or you don’t. My criticism that you’re not being full in reporting, not listing names of those involved besides French and her husband, as would be normal stands. Patience about more revelations that might be coming is not a dot that connects up with why this story, the one above, is poorly done, and comes across as biased toward cheaters.

  2. This looks very much like PT Supervisor Fremarek, the person next in line responsible here, was bid-stringing with French. Maybe trustees were also involved. Bid-stringing is a crime.

  3. “The Township Supervisor and the Board of Trustees appear to have been very proactive since our first publication.”

    Is this a joke?

    This is the same board and supervisor that were approving her invoices for 5 years. They aren’t being proactive, they are in damage control mode now that they’ve been caught.

    You are either protecting political friends, or are falling for the same gaslighting they have been trying to push off on the residents for years.

    ” and now they are moving forward on a forensic audit as suggested by the State’s Attorney”

    This information is not contained in any of the meeting minutes published by the board. Are you just taking their word on it? Or are they passing currently confidential board business to you exclusively? Because that would also be less than legal.

    If you are interested in these things, please do a report on the village trustee who currently owns rental properties, and also consistently votes against any competitive rental property developments in the village.

  4. The true guilty people hired French and condoned her actions over many years. Plainfield is notorious for shuffling things under the table. The closer you get to the head of this snake the more its going to twist. Plainfield needs to drain the swap!

  5. I will never understand how trustees are comfortable with just approving all bills each meeting. That’s one of the few duties of the job, and it’s key for oversight to prevent stuff like this.

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