Atlanta, Illinois, library accused of fraud in state grant application
The Atlanta, Illinois, Public Library District fraudulently entered into a contract in order to qualify for a grant from the Illinois Secretary of State, the Edgar County Watchdogs (ECW) allege on their Illinois Leaks website.
The ECW laid out what it contends were the steps the board took to deceive the state. The group said the board voted in December 2014 to authorize a contract for deed on the Union Hall building, which was owned by board member Bill Thomas. The library needed to have a deed of ownership or proof of long-term occupancy to receive the grant funding.
The ECW said a portion of the meeting minutes show that the contract was to be considered null and void if the library did not win a grant, and also noted that the contract included a provision requiring the library to lease space in the building back to Bill Thomas. Further, the contract was to be automatically terminated if the library did not make payments for 60 days.
The group also found it suspicious that the purchase price for the Union Hall building was $200,000 in the contract, when the county assessor listed its value at less than $50,000.
“We believe this grant application to be fraudulent, and this contract for deed to be a scam in order to obtain the grant,” ECW co-founder John Kraft wrote. “The December 2014 special meeting made it clear the contract was easily voidable, the Library never even made the first payment towards the contract for deed, we could not find any lease payments back to the library for Thomas’ occupancy as tenant, and this contract was replaced a few months later with a lease agreement to an entirely different person.”