Heilmann Responds to Charges in Legal Report
Mayor offers "observations" as defense against legal report that casts him in unflattering light.
In response to the Godfrey and Kahn probe into the former village attorney now known as Tressler LLP, Mayor Dave Heilmann offered his own 46-page document of "observations" responding to some of legal report's findings.
Last week, Heilmann blasted Godfrey and Kahn attorney Eric Wilson for leaving out a federal grand jury subpeona served on the village last year requesting all documents and records pertaining to the hiriing of Querrey and Harrow.
The firm replaced Tressler after some board members raised concerns over the village’s tripling legal fees, leaving some question of whether village had allegedly been double-billed by its village counsel.
The village settled with Tressler for $500,000 in April.
Heilmann says he has no idea who alerted the U.S. Attorney, except for that "there was a lot of back and forth at public meetings. The FBI and feds are not stupid. There are public corruption units that look for this. I doubt it was that hard for them to pick up."
Earlier this summer, the mayor said he had offered his "observations" after the final legal report had been delivered to the village board, despite the report still being under a confidentiality agreement that would have penalized the Oak Lawn taxpayers $50,000 if publicly divulged.
The Godfrey and Kahn Report was released under the Freedom of Information Act after Tressler releaed itself of financial responsibility for fighting an appeal. Oak Lawn Patch has posted all five parts of the completed report.
In his observations, Heilmann, who is up for reelection as mayor next April, told Godfrey and Kahn attorneys that the village had originally sought to hire Moss and Bloomberg as its village attorney in 2005, which at that time had merged with Tressler.
The mayor’s community theater partner and attorney friend, Norm Chimenti, who had been hired around the same time to serve as the village’s “special legal counsel,” had suggested hiring Moss and Bloomberg.
“I agreed and recommended hiring Tressler after discussions with Mr. Chimenti and researching Moss and Bloomberg,” Heilmann states.
Heilmann said that Oak Lawn trustees were sent a letter dated Oct. 12, 2005, informing them that he had hired Barry Moss and Tressler to serve as the village attorney and that “no one objected.”
The fact that Bob Heyne, a boyhood friend of the mayor’s, worked at Tressler was “total coincidence.”
Confronted by Godfrey and Kahn that his explanation of Chimenti finding attorney Barry Moss “totally on his own” was not credible, a defiant Heilmann responds:
“I was there and truthfully informed Godfrey and Kahn what took place. If seven years later you want to say you don’t believe that, I guess you can have your opinion.
“I do question the use of public funds to pay an out of state law firm to render judgment on who they believe or not when they weren’t around to witness anything … That doesn’t see a prudent use of tax dollars.”
The mayor also offers background into his role in negotiating Tressler’s $21,000 monthly retainer. According to Heilmann, it was Moss who proposed the retainer fee to the village board to save the village 10 percent on its legal bills—not the mayor, as some village board members, notably Trustee Tom Phelan (Dist. 6), have eluded.
Heilmann has ripped the report as “biased” because of lead Godfrey and Kahn attorney Wilson’s past relationship with Phelan, who were both in the same college fraternity at University of Illinois.
Phelan, who is two years older than Wilson, has stated that both were in different pledge classes. They knew each other only in passing because they went their own groups.
Read the mayor's document.