American Community Bank and Trust has turned over $55,000 in Algonquin Township Highway Department money to the lawyer of a downstate watchdog group that sued the road district last year in a public records lawsuit.
McHenry County Circuit Judge Thomas Meyer on Tuesday ordered the bank to turn over the money to Crystal Lake attorney Denise Ambroziak to satisfy the terms of a settlement she negotiated with the attorney of Algonquin Township Highway Commissioner Andrew Gasser to get the road district out of the lawsuit.
Supervisor Charles Lutzow, who also serves as the highway department treasurer, on Thursday said the money had been debited from the road district bank account.
Although the road district has settled out of the public records lawsuit with the Edgar County Watchdogs, the township still is fighting allegations that Clerk Karen Lukasik willfully did not comply with Freedom of Information Act requests on multiple occasions. The next court date is set at 10 a.m. Feb. 28.
In April, Kirk Allen and John Kraft – founders of the 501(c)(4) organization – filed a public records lawsuit naming both Algonquin Township and the Algonquin Township Highway Department alleging that the governments on multiple occasions did not comply with public records law.
In June, Lukasik resigned as a FOIA officer.
“I do not want any liability moving forward with the massive amounts of records that I need to concentrate on,” Lukasik wrote in a resignation email.
In October, road district attorney Robert Hanlon negotiated a deal to cut a $40,000 settlement payment to the Edgar County Watchdogs to get the name of the road district taken off the lawsuit, a move that stirred the concerns of township officials.
A paragraph in the settlement agreement gave the township board 10 days after its October meeting to approve the payment – or else the settlement would increase at a rate of $5,000 a month until paid in full.
Although township officials audited the request for the $40,000 settlement, they denied the payment because the road district did not have enough money left in its legal budget, but Meyer later ordered that the payment must be made to the Edgar County Watchdogs.