The supervisor of Joliet Township is facing multiple allegations of misuse of government funds and employees.
The Joliet Township Road District filed a lawsuit Wednesday against Supervisor Daniel Vera and the township. The suit accuses Vera of making road district employees work at a property he owns near the intersection of Hickory and Jefferson streets in Joliet. Township Assessor James Brenczewski said property at 335 and 339 W. Jefferson St., which is next to Hickory Street, belongs to Vera.
The lawsuit alleges Vera “attempted to assert influence over the management of employees at the road district” by having the employees work on his property and not paying for it.
The work on the property included excavating using road district equipment, the suit said.
The lawsuit included other allegations against Vera and said he “held himself out to be the CEO of the township and road district” and “selected persons to be appointed to positions to please his personal whims.”
Joliet Township attorney Jim Harvey said it was not true that Vera had road district employees work on his Jefferson Street property, because he doesn’t control those employees. Harvey also said it was not true that Vera threatened to fire township employees who were alleged to have worked on his property.
“A lot of this complaint doesn’t make sense, legally or factually,” Harvey said.
Harvey said he didn’t know anything about Vera’s Jefferson Street property.
Vera failed to respond to multiple calls and messages Thursday. Harvey said Vera would not speak to The Herald-News and he would prefer the lawsuit take its course in court.
The lawsuit said Vera appointed Brenczewski to get a tax break on at least one property he owns. Assessment records show the property at the intersection of Hickory and Jefferson doesn’t have residential space or air conditioning, neither of which are true, according to the lawsuit. Vera’s property was then underassessed, which required him to pay less tax on the property.
Brenczewski said the information in the lawsuit was based on records from the Will County Assessor’s office, which are not as up to date as his records of the property. He said that Vera asked for his property to be reassessed, something that all county property owners can ask of the assessor’s office.
Brenczewski said Vera’s property included commercial office space that had been vacant for several years, which would have qualified it for a lower assessment. He said his records did not show that the property was without air conditioning, although he said that factor was “negligible” in terms of the property’s assessment.
He said he felt Vera’s property was not underassessed.
“He didn’t ask me for any favors at all,” Brenczewski said.
Brenczewski also said he wasn’t directly appointed to his job by Vera. He said he was appointed by a committee from the Will County Democratic party in 1998 to fill a vacancy and has been reelected to the position for each subsequent term.
Brenczewski said Vera was the chairman of the Will County Democratic party at the time of his appointment, but he wasn’t part of the three-person committee that appointed Brenczewski.
Will County State’s Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Carole Cheney said her office was in contact with the Joliet Police Department about the allegations in the lawsuit. She said Joliet police were looking into the matter.