Village Explores Litigation Against Former Village Attorneys

Village manager says Oak Lawn will pursue "any and all remedies" to recover money and address possible misconduct.

The Oak Lawn Village Board has directed the village manager to engage a law firm to further investigate allegations raised in an explosive report against the former village attorneys.

In a news release issued last Friday, Village Manager Larry Deetjen announced that he engaged the law firm of Wisconsin-based Godfrey & Kahn S.C. to review alleged overbillings and practices of Tressler, Soderstrom, Maloney & Priess, LLP to determine if misconduct and possible malpractice occurred during the time the law firm provided legal counsel for the village between 2005-2009.

Also included is Martin, Craig, Chester & Sonnenschein, LLP, the firm that employed Norm Chimenti, a friend and theatrical partner of Mayor Dave Heilmann. Both firms were hired based on Heilmann’s recommendations.

Heilmann, who said he still hasn't read the “Odelson Report," described it as a against him. 

The action comes about as the result of a report compiled by Burt Odelson, of Odelson and Sterk, after a . Odelson made a preliminary report to the board in open session last summer.

On April 18, Odelson presented his findings with recommendations to the village board in executive session. That report was .

Deetjen recommended firing both firms after village board trustees and department heads raised concerns regarding mounting legal fees and poor performance. Tressler and Chimenti were terminated in 2009.

Tressler attorney D.J. Sartorio described the village's of inexperienced lawyers over their heads in municipal counsel and mishandling of high-profile lawsuits against the village as "coming out of left field for us."

Sartorio also said the village still owes his firm $96,000 in invoices and that he expected Tressler to prevail in any litigation.

Village trustees were asked to decide which course of action to pursue, based on Odelson’s recommendations and the findings of the report, and to provide direction to the village manager.

According to Godfrey and Kahn’s website, one of the firm’s areas of specialty is “white collar defense and investigations.” The firm’s white-collar practice group touts “a former Watergate prosecutor and former United States Attorney, three former Assistant United States Attorneys, and several former state prosecutors.”

The village manager described the village’s action as an “explicit demonstration,” adding that the village will pursue to the fullest extent of the law “any and all remedies available to recover monies rightfully due and address any possible official misconduct.”

Deetjen said he would have no further comment while Godfrey and Kahn’s investigation was under way.

QC May 11, 2011 at 04:18 PM
x65 aka Tommmy bob You're right. He also represented Rev. Meeks and anyone else that has a buck. What do they call that again? Ask Janie Quinlan she does the same thing. How's that lawsuit against him for overbilling Proviso going? He may not have HIS license to practice for very long. You better retain him while you still can! BBBBAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHH!
Jay Washington May 11, 2011 at 04:37 PM
The fact that this has happend with Tressler in Bolingbrook shows a pattern of behavior. I think that Odelson stumbled upon somethng and for the sake of all of our Villages, he needs to pursue this. The people whom wrote above must work for the law firm, because they do the same thing by us. The only problem? Numbers dont lie.
Dr. Linda Lorincz Shelton May 11, 2011 at 06:10 PM
The fact that Odelson represented Todd Stroger and other questionable characters and machine associated people doesn't prove he is liberal. It does prove he know who has the money. It proves he knows how to work WITH the corrupt.
andy skoundrianos May 11, 2011 at 06:26 PM
QC aka Davey I guess people's names on these blogs too. Why the hatred for Jane?? Dave, I mean QC?? Your mad she is more popular than you??? That she is actually a good human being who cares about Oak Lawn and its residents?? That she doesn't crave the spotlight and cameras like you do??
OakLawnGuy May 11, 2011 at 07:05 PM
Andy aka.....uh, Andy. What happened to "let's let it play out"?
QC May 12, 2011 at 02:45 AM
li'l andy failin Why so many question marks? What Happened at Sward 4/14 "The maximum number of people who may have participated and been given the wrong ballot was 12 people,” said Courtney Greve, spokeswoman for the county clerk’s office. The County Clerk estimates at least 56 voters were turned away because of Clerk Quinlan’s mistake, voting in the 5th District. That doesn’t include many who went to vote who were turned away and never voted." She's avoiding the spotlight and cameras because of guilt. They'll be following her for a long, long time... along with investigators.
Jim Vondracek May 12, 2011 at 01:44 PM
In my opinion this is a waste of money that the village doesn't have. Enough muckraking.
Dr. Linda Lorincz Shelton May 12, 2011 at 01:53 PM
Where is the PROOF of malfeasance in Bolingbrook? Where is the response from Tressler, other accused attorneys, and the Mayor BEFORE we hire a new law firm and waste more money based on a biased, one-sided, and MAYBE inaccurate and mis-leading Odelson report? Shouldn't all this be made public before tax money is wasted on another investigation. Where is the PROOF that the Odelson firm is qualified to do this kind of investigation and followed the standard of care in producing his inaccurate and one-sided re port? Why did we pay his firm? Shouldn't this have been referred to the FBI for their investigation if there are allegations of public corruption? How much did the Odelson report and "17 month" investigation cost? I think we need to investigate the motives of the person behind the Odelson report.
The Academy Award Goes To_____ May 20, 2011 at 01:25 AM
SUBURBAN CHICAGOLAND : By Ray Hanania JANUARY 8 2009 Oak Lawn United Party holds open house for Spring Elections APRIL 7,2009 While Orland Mayor holds his own, Paul O'Grady moves in for a sweep April 7, 2009 Election Day. UNITY PARTY PREVAILS. By David Kidwell, Tribune reporter The key date for Oak Lawn was April 22, 2009, when Streit, Phelan and the village manager met privately with Madigan during the annual "lobby day" where local government officials come to Springfield to pitch their agendas. June 8, 2009 Oak Lawn officials invited Madigan to Village Hall to thank him for breaking the bureaucratic logjam. They gave him a framed proclamation, a tour of their new emergency operations center and a catered meal from Palermo's on 95th Street, a favorite Madigan restaurant. In an exchange of emails with Heilmann in June 2009, Chimenti laments that he feels as if he is competing with the other labor attorney, Karl Ottosen, for “Deetjen’s and Phelan’s affections.” Patch
The Academy Award Goes To_____ May 20, 2011 at 01:26 AM
Heilmann’s letter to the Southtown Star “The manager apparently hired a lawyer on his own in July, 2009 to get a legal opinion on his powers over the mayor. That bill was in our payables for this past meeting and that lawyer was paid $200/hour. (My first knowledge of this) So when we are out there saying that $200 is acceptable for certain purposes but others are overcharging at $170, it raises some questions.” By David Kidwell, Tribune reporter “Amid this public feud, the mayor received a rare telephone call from Madigan. (July 2009) Heilmann said Madigan called to suggest Paul O'Grady, a partner at Querrey & Harrow, for the village attorney job. The mayor said he told Madigan about the dissension over the issue at Village Hall and his concern about Phelan's connections to another partner at the firm. Madigan offered to call O'Grady and ask him to withdraw the firm from consideration. Madigan called back five minutes later to say he had relayed the concerns to O'Grady. But two weeks later, on Tues. Aug. 11 2009, the Village Board fired the previous city attorneys, supposedly over the billing controversy and hired Querrey & Harrow and Paul O’Grady
The Academy Award Goes To_____ May 20, 2011 at 01:28 AM
By David Kidwell, Tribune reporter September 13, 2009 The night Madigan was feted by the village trustees, they also received a board-ordered report that blasted the billing practices of the old village attorneys. The village was still looking for more legal help in September when Madigan agreed to serve as a sponsor of a fundraiser for Streit, a trustee who acknowledges never before in his 19-year political career has he enjoyed the speaker's political support. That Sept. 30, 2009, fundraiser coincided with Streit's recommendations of two more law firms to serve on the village's new legal team to issue revenue bonds for the water project and other construction work. The other bond counsel recommended by Streit was MILLER CANFIELD, an international law firm represented by CHICAGO PARTNER PAUL DURBIN, the SON OF U.S. SEN. DICK DURBIN, D-ILL. PAUL DURBIN DECLINED TO COMMENT. SEPTEMBER 13,2009 By Ray Hanania 19th Ward targets Madigan's legislative soft spots in February primary: Hickey goes after McCarthy the fact is Madigan is tight with Gov. Pat Quinn. the 19th Ward were rock-solid behind the candidacy of another recent victor, Paul O'Grady in the surprise Orland Township election victory. Dan Hynes, now the Illinois Comptroller, is running for governor against Pat Quinn, Madigan's candidate.)
The Academy Award Goes To_____ May 20, 2011 at 01:30 AM
NOVEMBER 2, 2009 UNITY Party no longer united in Oak Lawn HANANIA There was the wholly one-sided and vicious attack against Heilmann in the Daily Southtown recently, a story that seemed a bit unfair for a news story. Phelan tossing attacks against Heilmann as if Heilmann were Oak lawn's problems. I have seen this happen before and it always stinks. DECEMBER 14, 2009 Oak lawn Trustee Tom Phelan blasts criticism of his actions By Ray HANANIA My column this week in the Southwest News-Herald addresses the troubling pattern that has replaced honorable politics in Oak Lawn and the role of Oak Lawn Trustee Tom Phelan in trying to undermine Mayor Dave Heilmann
The Academy Award Goes To_____ May 20, 2011 at 01:31 AM
December 18, 2009 Something Is Not Right in Oak Lawn By RAY HANANIA The coalition won again last April but by then, visions of grandeur started to plague the once humbled political elves. Well, there is no doubt that it all started with the position of village attorney. Phelan, who is not an attorney, decided he wanted the village to dump the attorneys that Heilmann, who is an attorney, brought in to do the village’s legal work. But Phelan and his new allies decided he wanted to bring in a firm that happens to be headed by his friend, Mike Stillman. Stillman is the managing shareholder in the law firm of Querrey & Harrow. Stillman’s hiring was orchestrated by Phelan’s new board coalition over Heilmann’s objections. Talk about a political ingrate
The Academy Award Goes To_____ May 20, 2011 at 01:41 AM
January 13, 2010 Village OKs legal inquiry By Casey Cora The village board officially gave the green light for municipal law firm Odelson and Sterk to look into the all of the village's legal bills since 2005. But the BOARD shot down Heilmann's last-minute push, ARGUING THAT THE INVESTIGATION, WHICH OAK LAWN WILL PAY A MAXIMUM OF $25,000 TO COMPLETE, is ultimately a good deal for the taxpayers. But village officials have been tight lipped about the billing inquiry's potential outcomes, raising questions about what the investigation is really all about. January 15, 2010 Friday night special By Casey Cora Mayor Heilmann’s reply letter to Southtown Star This April, 2010 the Oak Lawn officials visited Madigan again on lobby day
The Academy Award Goes To_____ May 20, 2011 at 01:43 AM
May 18, 2010 An investigation "with a purpose" By Casey Cora Southtown Star Heilmann is pointing to a two-month-old conversation between finance director Brian Hanigan and Burt Odelson in which Odelson allegedly revealed that two trustees - Bob Streit (3rd) and Tom Phelan (6th) "are out for blood" and that they wanted "Heilmann's head on a platter." Hanigan said he did relay to Heilmann that the village board's approval of an inquiry was "an investigation with a purpose." "But (as for) what that purpose is, people can draw their own conclusions," he said. BY PHIL KADNER June 9, 2010 Oak Lawn legal bills questioned in report The most serious contention in the report appears to be that village officials authorized a settlement offer of $200,000 to the firefighter claiming sexual harassment that was never passed on to her attorney. Southtown Star
The Academy Award Goes To_____ May 20, 2011 at 01:45 AM
On June 10, 2010 A legal mess at village hall By Elisabeth Martin Oak Lawn may have overpaid its old attorneys hundred of thousands of dollars, and no one's sure exactly how it all happened. Southtown Star June 27, 2010 By David Kidwell, Tribune Madigan's allies get slice of village business Oak Lawn asked House speaker for help; law firms linked to him may rack up hundreds of thousands in legal fees. House Speaker Michael Madigan, left, and Oak Lawn Trustee Tom Phelan tour the village's emergency center. (Terrence Antonio James/Tribune) -Picture
The Academy Award Goes To_____ May 20, 2011 at 01:53 AM
Madigan. June 28, 2010 How things are done here Posted by Rich Miller CAPITOLFAX.COM Trustee Streit, a conservative who was eventually the beneficiary of a Madigan fundraiser, flatly denies anything untoward happened. Past problems are now being fixed. But the new attorneys have close ties to Madigan and have contributed quite a lot to his campaign funds. One of those firms hired Democratic state Rep. Lou Lang not long after winning the contract, although Lang claims there was zero connection. Another firm is represented by the son of US Sen. Dick Durbin MEDILL REPORTS CHICAGO : Madigan By Courtney Sep. 29, 2010 Subramanian Emanuel wants to do is come 'home' and run for mayor One prominent election law expert, attorney Burt Odelson, who has ties with House Speaker Michael
The Academy Award Goes To_____ May 20, 2011 at 02:01 AM
September 30, 2010 By Elisabeth Martin UPDATE: Board not releasing executive session tape Looks like a tape of a key discussion between Oak Lawn officials and its former law firm over a settlement in a high-profile lawsuit will stay under wraps for now. Board members voted 4-2 at Tuesday's meeting to not release the tape of a Jan. 8, 2008, executive session meeting, where officials authorized a settlement offer to counter the demand from FF sx harass. Suit. Mayor Dave Heilmann had pushed for the tape's release, saying it would help clear up questions about the strategy of the law firm, which is now the target of a village investigation
Oak Lawn Gal May 20, 2011 at 03:27 AM
Sounds like a planned power takeover with a slicing of the political pie. Phelan, Streit and Deetjen meet with Madigan to lobby for the water project among other things in 2009. We get the funding through loans. Deetjen hires a lawyer to get an opinion on the power leverage the village manager has over the mayor. The Phelan-Streit group then votes to terminate Tressler. Madigan calls Heilmann to recommend Querrey & Harrow as the replacement law firm but the mayor says Phelan has ties to Mike Stillman, a managing shareholder there. The Phelan coalition votes Q & H in as the new law firm over the mayor's objections. After this Madigan sponsors a fund raiser for Streit. Streit then recommends Miller Canfield represented by Paul Durbin son of Dick Durbin forvillage bond work. So Madigan bought the loyalty of Phelan-Streit. Getting rid of Tressler and hiring Querrey wasprobably the test. They passed this test. Madigan gets a power base in Oak Lawn and he also gets a lot of legal fees channeled to law firms that contributed to his campaigns. Phase 2 is getting rid of Heilmann and putting in one of the Phelan-Streit coalition as the next mayor. Enter Odelson with his report. This is the sameOdelson who told Hannigan that Phelan and Streit wanted Heilmann's head on a platter. Deetjen then hires the Wisconsin law firm. Pretty slick.
andy skoundrianos May 20, 2011 at 04:10 AM
Stop watching so many conspiracy theory tv shows Gal. You forgot to mention how Heilmann asked Madigan for help in 2009 mayoral race. Slipped yor mind?? Heilmann was the one looking into case law to see if he could remove the manager get your facts straight. Tell Dave it was Col. Mustard in the den with a candlestick..
Oak Lawn Gal May 20, 2011 at 03:23 PM
It's simple and it's all in the articles that Academy Award posted. Only the simple minded are unwilling to consider the possibilities here. The deal that worked seems to be the one between Madigan and Phelan-Streit- Deetjen. Our daring trio go to chat up Madiagn for the water project. We get the loans for the project and Larry's checking with lawyers to see what power he has compared to the mayor. Phelan-Streit and their buddies dump Tressler and vote to hire Querrey & Harrow. That's the law firm with Phelan's buddy who's a major shareholder. Streit recommends other law firms with connections to Madigan and Madigan sponsors a fundraiser for Streit. So the Phelan-Streit coalition gets political muscle through Madigan. Madigan gets influence over the Phelan-Streit coalition and Oak Lawn politics not to mention 100's of thousands of dollars in legal fees to law firms that contributed to Madigan's campaigns. Favors are owed all over on this one and that's the coin of the realm in politics - favors and money because they add up to power. The next logical step is to try to get Heilmann out of office so they consolidate their control. I'd imagine more favors will flow from and to Madigan to try to accomplish that. And this all started with that initial meeting with Madigan in 2008.
Oak Lawn Gal May 20, 2011 at 03:27 PM
Remember Odelson's words to Hannigan. From a 2010 article: "Heilmann is pointing to a two-month-old conversation between finance director Brian Hanigan and Burt Odelson in which Odelson allegedly revealed that two trustees - Bob Streit (3rd) and Tom Phelan (6th) "are out for blood" and that they wanted "Heilmann's head on a platter." Hanigan said he did relay to Heilmann that the village board's approval of an inquiry was "an investigation with a purpose." It's not paranoia if people are really after you lol.
QC May 20, 2011 at 04:59 PM
li'l andy You had to know all of that stuff, being in with the Thugs and so close to the inner workings of your handlers. You've been bold face lying to all of us this whole time!! I hope the "old firm" sues the pants off of Tommy bob and the rest of you (individually) for blaming THEM for YOUR backroom deal!! LOWLIFES ALL. Thank you.
andy skoundrianos May 21, 2011 at 03:15 AM
QC Did you stop taking your meds again?? You really believe any of that garbage that you probably blogged under that fake name academy???Do you all sit in a room and have Dave coordinate all your posts?? I love how you back all the pro Dave posts as if you didn't know who posted them!!! If you really knew me QC you know I do my own stuff I don't take marching orders like you do.... Keep blaming Madigan for everything,or is it Streit,Phelan,Deetjen,Dumke,Kolb,Powers???? Did I leave out anybody??
Oak Lawn Gal May 21, 2011 at 04:43 PM
This is an example of being so biased that you can't even consider other possibilities. It's also an eample of resorting to empty personal attacks when you can't address and refute the facts. Check out the news reports. Did Phelan-Streit-Deetjen meet with Madigan? Yes. Did they vote to get rid of Tressler? Yes. Did they hire Querrey & Harrow? Yes? Is Phelan's buddy a major shareholder? Since the paper reported in and Heilmann shared that as a concern with Madigan I'd say Yes. Did Streit recommend 3 law firms including Miller Canfield ? Yes. Did the law firms contribute money to Madigan? I'll rely on the paper here since I'm sure they confirmed that in their fact checking. Did Madigan sponsor a fund raiser for Streit that coincided with the recommendations of the 3 law firms? Yes. Had Madigan ever done this for Streit before ? No. It goes on and on. When Heilmann said the Tressler issue was a part of a political attack on him I took it with a grain of salt. But in looking at the chain of events I'd have to consider it a real possibility that Phelan-Streit-Deetjen put a plan together with Madigan to initiate control of the board. The next step imo is to try to attack Heilmann through the Tressler issue and weaken him as a candidate in the next election. We'll certainly end up in a lawsuit with Tressler. At that point all of the audio tapes from the executive sessions should be fair game :)
Uh Oh May 21, 2011 at 07:46 PM
hit a nerve Andy? you "don't take marching orders" are you kidding?? to me it looks like academy isn't blaming madigan, it's how low the "other board members" stooped and how dishonest they've been about the old attorneys, for their benefit.
andy skoundrianos May 22, 2011 at 10:10 PM
Shame that's not a nice thing to say Where are your manners?? Did I anger you with the truth??? Sorry it does sting a little sometimes.. Good to see your posting again Dave,or one of his robots!!
NewKidsOnTheBlock May 28, 2011 at 02:04 PM
5/10/11 Patch Village Manager Larry Deetjen announced that he engaged the law firm of Wisconsin-based Godfrey & Kahn S.C. According to Godfrey and Kahn’s website, one of the firm’s areas of specialty is “white collar defense and investigations.” The firm’s white-collar practice group touts “A FORMER WATERGATE PROSECUTOR AND FORMER UNITED STATES ATTORNEY, THREE FORMER ASSISTANT UNITED STATES ATTORNEYS, AND SEVERAL FORMER STATE PROSECUTORS.” Patch Godfrey & Kahn S.C. website Douglas P. (Shareholder), 1994, ILLINOIS, U.S. COURT OF APPEALS, SEVENTH CIRCUIT AND U.S. DISTRICT COURT, NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS;. EDUCATION: NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY (B.A., HISTORY, WITH DEPARTMENTAL HONORS, 1988); LOYOLA UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO (J.D., SUMMA CUM LAUDE, 1994). Practice Areas: Toxic Torts; Products Liability; Complex and Multi-District Litigation.
NewKidsOnTheBlock May 28, 2011 at 02:05 PM
Eric W. (Shareholder) BORN LA GRANGE, ILLINOIS; ADMITTED TO BAR, 1994, ILLINOIS AND U.S. DISTRICT COURT, NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS; 2003,. Education: UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS (B.S., WITH HIGH HONORS, 1990); Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government (M.P.P., 1994); Harvard Law School (J.D., cum laude, 1994). Practice Areas: Trial Practice; Complex Litigation; White Collar Crime; Criminal Investigation; Grand Jury Practice; Criminal Appeals; Securities Fraud; Antitrust. Jennifer G. Associate ADMITTED TO BAR, 2005, ILLINOIS; 2010, Wisconsin; registered to practice before U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Education: University of Wisconsin-Madison (B.S., 2000); DEPAUL UNIVERSITY COLLEGE OF LAW (J.D., 2005). Practice Areas: Intellectual Property; Litigation.
NewKidsOnTheBlock May 28, 2011 at 02:15 PM
Statement from Mike W, Godfrey & Kahn S.C. "Leadership is about doing the right thing” Mike W. Political Law Mike is ALSO a principal in Capitol Opinion, LLC, a non-partisan survey research firm. As part of his work on political law matters, Mike provides consulting services to a variety of organizations in connection with their government affairs activities. WORKING WITH LOBBYISTS AND LOBBYING ORGANIZATIONS, Mike helps organizations improve their public policy programs through audits and reviews of an organization's legislative and political effectiveness. He is consulted on structural and staffing changes by organizations and has participated in the recruitment and hiring of many government relations professionals. Mike TEACHES "POLITICAL LAW: Campaign Finance, Ethics & Elections" at the University of Wisconsin Law School. He is a member of the Council on Governmental Ethics Law, AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF POLITICAL CONSULTANTS as well as the American Bar Association's Administrative Law and Regulatory Practice Section. MIKE HAS DIRECT EXPERIENCE WITH POLITICAL CAMPAIGNS AND MEDIA RELATIONS AND, PRIOR TO LAW SCHOOL, WORKED AS A CONGRESSIONAL AIDE IN WASHINGTON, D.C. BEFORE JOINING THE FIRM, HE SERVED AS CAMPAIGN MANAGER AND SPOKESPERSON FOR U.S. SENATOR RUSS FEINGOLD'S (D-WI) SUCCESSFUL 1998 RE-ELECTION.


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