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Thursday, June 20, 2024 | Back issues
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Town Says Official Wrote His Own Ticket

CHICAGO (CN) - The suburban Village of Bellwood claims the man who worked as its comptroller, financial director and attorney raised his own salary by 700 percent, with a $225,000 annual pension, and had the village pay $100,000 in "equine movement" therapy for his son, while saddling the village with more than $100 million in debt.

The Village of Bellwood, a western suburb of Chicago, sued Roy F. McCampbell in Cook County Court.

From 2005 to 2009 McCampbell served as comptroller, executive director of the Bellwood Property Commission, chief executive of the Public Safety Department, finance director, budget director, Human Resources director, chief administrator and financial officer for the Bellwood Opportunity Development Corporation, assistant to the mayor and corporation counsel, according to the complaint.

He was hired in 2000 as village comptroller and began abusing his authority in 2005, the village says.

The village claims McCampbell's salary increased as the town's population was falling. His salary increased from $61,980 in 2001 to $449,312 by 2009; he received more than $1.5 million in compensation in his last 4 years, according to the complaint.

"Ultimately, unbeknownst to the Village officials, defendant was earning more than seven times his original salary by the end of 2009," according to the complaint.

The village says McCampell drafted his own multiyear employment contracts, which included inflated pension benefits, increased vacation and sick time, expanded health coverage, additional life insurance, and termination clauses.

"No other village employee received a contract with a multi-year term," the complaint states.

"The village maintains that its attorneys never participated in drafting or reviewing of McCampbell's employment agreements with the Village of Bellwood."

It claims that McCampbell wrote a new and improved contract for himself every year until he was fired in 2010, and that he never provided board members with copies of the contracts.

McCampbell acted as corporation counsel and staff attorney simultaneously from 2007 to 2009 without approval from the village board, breaching his ethical duties to Bellwood, the village says.

At the same time, the village claims, it was paying an outside law firm $800,000 per year in legal fees.

The village claims McCampbell paid a payroll clerk for unearned overtime hours during his stint as human resources director. Her yearly salary should have been $35,000-$45,000, the complaint states. "However, this employee was paid between $100,000-$150,000 per year," the village alleges. It claims that "McCampbell had specifically approved this employee to be paid for a significant amount of overtime hours that she did not earn."

Bellwood claims McCampbell hired a "preferred vendor" of the West Central Municipal Conference (WCMC) to install a wireless surveillance system throughout Bellwood, for $4 million in equipment and technology services.

"McCampbell was the treasurer of the WCMC from 1984 to 2010," the complaint states.

It claims that as Bellwood's comptroller and finance director, McCampbell was able to negotiate a contract with Current Technologies Corp., a "preferred vendor" of the WCMC, without disclosing its terms to the village.

The village claims the $4 million system is outdated and poorly maintained, and that "The specific terms [of the agreement] are not known by the village."

What's more, "The cameras failed to capture images relating to crimes, accidents and incidents that it was intended to capture," the complaint states.

The village claims the system has no central anti-virus management, uses old Windows 98 computers "that are prone to locking up, have weak security controls and have numerous identified threats/vulnerabilities," which the complaint lists.

McCampbell also sought reimbursement for $100,000 in "hippotherapy" treatments for his autistic child, despite the village's financial difficulties, the complaint states.

It defines hippotherapy as "a physical, occupational and speech-language therapy treatment strategy that utilizes equine movement as part of an integrated intervention program to achieve functional outcomes."

Third-party administrator Mesirow Financial rejected his initial claim, the village says.

"Upon information and belief, McCampbell sent Mesirow a facsimile cover page from what appeared to be an ordinance approved by the Village Board of Trustees authorizing the reimbursement to Campbell.

"Upon information and belief, the TPA accepted this as evidence that the Village had expanded its autism benefits to cover the services which had been originally denied on claims submitted by McCampbell for his children," according to the complaint. McCampbell also negotiated a contract with RedSpeed to have red-light cameras installed throughout the village without disclosing his alleged financial interest in the company, Bellwood claims.

It claims that a failed redevelopment project involving a new Wal-Mart store and Metra station landed the Village in $100 million in debt. The village says the project was introduced and overseen by McCampbell, who persuaded it to issue bonds, take out bank loans and buy up properties at inflated costs without a viable developer.

"In sum, McCampbell recommended and orchestrated the village taking on over $98,000,000 in debt.

"There has been virtually no redevelopment in the village.

"Nonetheless, McCampbell rewrote his contracts to provide for lucrative salaries and currently, a pension that pays him over $225,000 per year," the village says.

The village claims that McCampbell destroyed its credit so thoroughly it was unable to get credit to lease a truck.

Bellwood seeks damages for fraud, conspiracy, legal malpractice, breach of fiduciary duty, negligent misrepresentation, and willful and wanton conduct.

It is represented by Emanuel Welch with Sanchez Daniels & Hoffman.

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