State's attorney to review village's CDBG spending

1995-05-28T00:00:00Z State's attorney to review village's CDBG spendingRANDY RICHARDSON nwitimes.com
May 28, 1995 12:00 am  • 

SAUK VILLAGE - A Cook County Board task force has turned over to the

state's attorney's office its probe of the village's handling of a program to

refurbish single-family homes.

But whether the state's attorney's office is looking into any possible

criminal misdeeds connected to the village's administration of its Community

Development Block Grant program is unclear.

Andrea Brands, spokeswoman for the Cook County Board of Commissioners, said

the state's attorney's office was brought in to assist the county in its own

investigation. "We sent it over to them, so that we would have a complete and

thorough review," she said.

Cook County is "working in conjunction with the state's attorney's office,"

she said. Although Cook County is still involved, the "primary investigation

lies" now with the state's attorney's office, she said.

Tim Touhy, a spokesman for the state's attorney's office, would not confirm

nor deny that his office was investigating the Sauk Village program.

Village Attorney Louis Vitullo acknowledged that the state's attorney's

office had been called in to assist the county, but contended that the review

has already been completed.

Brands, however, said the state's attorney's office is "still assisting us

with the review."

Vitullo further asserted that the state's attorney's office was "not doing

any investigation of any criminal impropriety, because there was no

impropriety."

In December, the county froze the release of block grant money to the

village after determining that it lacked "the capacity to operate" the program.

The action put on hold about $197,000 in grant money awarded to the village

in 1993 for single-family home renovation work. The money is designed to help

homeowners make necessary repairs they otherwise would be unable to afford.

The county receives block grant funds from the U.S. Department of Housing

and Urban Development and distributes the money to communities for various

redevelopment and rehabilitation projects.

In suspending funds to Sauk Village, the county cited unnecessary delays on

projects, sloppy record-keeping by the village and numerous homeowners'

complaints of shoddy workmanship by contractors.

In addition, the village was ordered to return all grant money still in its

possession and to keep all files and documents relating to the program dating

back to 1991.

One affected homeowner said the county has put a lien on her home to try to

recoup a $58,000 loan she received through the block grant program. Pat O'Brien

contended that the county put the lien on her home because the contractor

selected by the village to work on her home was not bonded.

O'Brien said the county also has hired its own contractor to fix problems

with her house that the contractor hired by the village failed to repair.

"It's been a total nightmare," O'Brien said.

"I wish to God I'd never heard of the CDBG program," she added. "If you want

your life destroyed, just get entangled with (Sauk Village) and Cook County."

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