LAKE IN THE HILLS – Stephanie Scala usually doesn’t get Facebook messages after midnight.
That’s why the 45-year-old mother of three was shocked to see a late-night message pop into her inbox from a man she had read about in the newspaper: Robert Hanlon, the $375-an-hour lawyer representing Algonquin Township Highway Commissioner Andrew Gasser in multiple legal battles.
In a message delivered via Facebook Messenger at 12:03 a.m. Friday, Hanlon took issue with a comment Scala had posted to a story on the Northwest Herald’s Facebook page. Scala called Hanlon a “crook.”
“Ms Scalia (sic),” Hanlon wrote. “I have never missed a court date for Algonquin Township and I find the misinformation contained in the story and your comment actionable.”
The misinformation refers to comments made by a woman named Jennie McCracken, whom Hanlon subpoenaed the day after she spoke out against him at an Algonquin Township meeting. At the meeting, McCracken said Hanlon did not show up to court in a case involving the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150. Hanlon has not missed a court date.
On Thursday, Scala commented on a story about Hanlon serving a subpoena to McCracken.
“If you are charging $350 an hour but can’t remember to attend a court date that is available for all of the public to find, you are a crook,” Scala wrote.
Scala’s comment referred – incorrectly – to how much money Hanlon’s firm has billed Algonquin Township for services and a case that involved a default judgment because Gasser and his attorney never filed a response to a labor complaint involving three employees whom the highway commissioner fired on his first day in office.
Although Hanlon’s firm has billed Algonquin Township more than $131,000 for legal services through October, Administrative Law Judge Deena Sanceda ordered the highway department to rehire the employees and repay them for all financial losses, including wages and benefits with compounded interest at a rate of 7 percent, according to a Illinois Labor Relations Board ruling dated Sept. 28.
Gasser has not rehired the employees and is fighting the order to do so. In a court filing, Hanlon contended that because the complaint was not properly served, no response was required.
At 12:04 a.m. Friday, Hanlon sent a second message to Scala.
“... I challenge Ms McCracken to identify a date that I did not attend a scheduled court date for Algonquin Township,” Hanlon wrote.
Scala said she was unsure why Hanlon threatened her with a lawsuit on Facebook.
“It was kind of creepy,” Scala said. “Why at midnight are you trying to message people who make comments on Facebook?”
Scala is Facebook friends with McCracken – a Lake in the Hills woman who had her own run-in with Hanlon.
McCracken showed up to an Algonquin Township meeting Nov. 8 to call for an investigation into Hanlon. The next day, Hanlon subpoenaed her.
The daughter of McHenry County Board member Don Kopsell and a family friend of embattled former Highway Commissioner Bob Miller, McCracken contends she is a political target of Gasser and his attorney – a pair she believes is out to silence her.
Hanlon declined to comment on the subpoena he first served McCracken. The subpoena later was rescinded after a judge ordered a halt to discovery in the case.
Asked about the Facebook comment, Hanlon told the Northwest Herald, for the second time in recent weeks, to “Go pound sand.”