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September 23, 2023

Oakland Fire Protection District – Criminal Investigation Ongoing?

By Kirk Allen & John Kraft

On March 6, 2023

Coles Co. (ECWd) –

According to the Coles County State’s Attorney’s office, the criminal investigation of the alleged official misconduct by former trustees of the Oakland Fire Protection District is ongoing. We first broke that story back in October of last year in this article.

After being told the investigation done by the Sheriff’s office was complete, I asked for the following records.

“A copy of the criminal investigation report pertaining to alleged official misconduct of the Oakland Fire Protection District Trustees. I am seeking all reports, documented interviews, and audio and video recordings that were created during the investigation that we understand have now been completed”.

To our surprise, the State’s Attorney’s office responded to the FOIA request and claims the records are exempt due to an ongoing investigation by their office. We are not aware of criminal investigation powers provided to a State’s Attorney. We do agree with the second exemption claimed regarding the likelihood that a person will be deprived of a fair trial or an impartial hearing if those records are released.  With such an exemption claimed, is there hope the Fire Protection District will see a resolution to this matter, or is this another excuse to keep records from the public with the intent of never prosecuting?  We can only hope it’s not the latter.

“At this time, the criminal investigation report pertaining to alleged official misconduct of the Oakland Fire Protection District Trustees, all reports, documented interviews, and audio and video recordings created during the investigation are exempt as an ongoing investigation by my office pursuant to: 5 ILCS 140/7 (l )(d)(iii) – creates a substantial likelihood that a person will be deprived of a fair trial or an impartial hearing; and 5 ILCS 140/7( l )(d)(vii) (d) (vii) obstruct an ongoing criminal investigation by the agency that is the recipient of the request.”

We understand additional information has been provided to the investigation regarding possible Payroll Protection Plan fraud.  Willison Enterprises Inc. which owned the Norton Knolls Golf course was to be closed on November 1, 2019, according to the Oakland Independent. Others have also reported that the Golf Course was to close for good on November 1, 2019.

How does a closed golf course obtain a Federal PPP loan in April of 2020, for two employees totaling $3,000.00?  Additionally, how does the same company obtain another Federal PPP loan for $3,000.00 for two employees in February of 2021?  Longview Bank was the banking agency that provided the funding.  We can only hope the investigators gathered those loan documents to determine if any alleged fraud was committed.

According to the Secretary of State, Willison Enterprisess, LLC., who was using the assumed name of NORTON KNOLLS GOLF COURSE, was involuntarily dissolved in July 2022.

We have been unable to establish a good contact for Willison Enterprises LLC for comment.

 

 

 

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