CHICAGO (FOX 32/BGA) - A woman says she was fired for blowing the whistle on corruption in the town of Cicero. She filed suit, and won big, costing taxpayers nearly one million dollars.
As FOX 32’s Dane Placko and the Better Government Association investigate, her case is a blow to the way the town does business.
At Cicero Stadium, FOX 32 received the rope-a-dope when we tried to ask some park district officials a couple tough questions.
FOX 32: Hi Mr. Dominick, Dane with Fox 32. Can I ask some questions about Mr. Martinucci?
Brian Dominick is the son of longtime Cicero Town President Larry Dominick, and a board member of the Clyde Park District. The district board was recently ordered to pay $166,000 to a former employee who claimed in a federal lawsuit she was fired for speaking to the FBI about alleged misuse of taxpayer's money.
Now, though, taxpayers could be on the hook for another $800k in attorney’s fees.
"In the lawsuit she says she witnessed financial mismanagement by district officials. They were using credit cards for personal use,” said Andew Schroedter of the BGA.
Among those she accuses of stealing from taxpayers is Anthony Martinucci, who’s the executive director of the Clyde Park District, which is a part time position paying $52k a year.
But that's not Martinucci's only public payroll job. He’s also the director of recreation in neighboring Berwyn, which is a fulltime position paying $71k a year.
Martinucci also coach's the boys’ varsity basketball team at Morton High School, which pays him $9200 a year.
He’s also the chairman of the board of directors at Morton Community College in Cicero, but that’s an unpaid position.
In a deposition taken as part of the lawsuit, Martinucci says he also does political work for Larry Dominick as a precinct captain and records show he has given Dominick’s political organization more than $1700 in the past three years.
On three occasions, FOX 32 went to the Clyde Park District Headquarters hoping to talk to its top guy about the lawsuit.
FOX 32: Is Mr. Martinucci here?
Woman: "He is not."
FOX 32: Is he here on weekdays?
Woman: "He's in and out due to the nature of his position. So unfortunately, we don't have a set schedule for him."
Martinucci's unsigned time sheets from Clyde Park offer little information about the specific hours he works.
In the deposition, Martinucci is questioned about how he's able to juggle all those jobs and says he's does it by sometimes working in excess of 80 hours a week, which is something he repeated when we finally caught up to him at his Berwyn office.
Martinucci had no comment about the lawsuit, but a spokesman for Cicero says it is "Without merit... We believe the jury was wrong...and post-trial motions to vacate the judgment have been filed. There was no evidence presented at trial that Brian (Dominick), or any of the defendants, knew she went to the FBI."
"Any time you have allegations like this I think they should be taken seriously. I think taxpayers should be asking themselves is there enough oversight at the park district? Do we have people in place who are watching closely enough to make sure this type of stuff doesn't happen?" Schroedter said.
The Cicero spokesman says the FBI has not been in contact with any park district officials about the allegations of misspending. The FBI said it wouldn't comment either way.