by Chris Paulus
SUGAR GROVE—The Sugar Grove Township meeting room on Monday was filled with approximately 35 community members—many of whom stood during public comment and spoke in defense of former township supervisor Dan Nagel, who resigned from the position in October 2012.
Township Board members last October were approached by a man named Lee Thompson, who said he was concerned about some “inaccuracies” that he thought were taking place regarding Nagel. Township trustee Harry Davis explained that he had spoken with Nagel the day before, and explained to him that if the information Thompson presented before the board had merit, Davis would ask Nagel to resign. According to Davis, Nagel agreed.
The board then used a fiscal audit, required by state law yearly or when a board changes supervisors, to reveal the details of Nagel’s transactions.
“I filed a FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) request last year. I went to the police and they recommended this firm and this firm,” township trustee Scott Jesseman said. “The Police Department suggested (the audit). The intention of the audit was to find out what was missing and report it back to the public.”
The audit noted a total of $4,610, broken down in monthly reimbursement payments, that had been approved by the Township Board, absent of an initial decision to begin the alotment. An additional $3,000 in meal, gas and phone reimbursements had also received board approval, while not following various regulations and standards. Further details of the audit can be found on the Sugar Grove Township website, townshipofsugargrove.com.
Davis said the police’s recommendation was to take the audit to the state attorney. Based on the dollar amount, they decided not to prosecute criminally.
“We had a conversation with Dan and he was okay with this. He was going to resign if the information had merit,” Davis said. “There was a refrigerator here in the building that he sold to the township that never had a receipt. There were multiple items and transactions that should have had board approval. Nobody put a gun to his head; nobody threatened him with his life. He recognized his own fault at that point and said, ‘OK guys, I’m done.’
Community members in attendance during Monday’s meeting argued that the story is suspicious and has holes.
“Usually an audit will come back with the goods and the bads. If there were financial discrepancies that were showing up in the past, those would have come through on an audit,” said Kane County Board member Melisa Taylor. “They would have come through on a yearly audit. It’s not the responsibility of the supervisor only to read that audit; it’s the responsibility of the entire board.”
Township Board members also disclosed that the Nagel situation has been largely handled outside of an actual board meeting, and that those outside meetings did not meet a required quorum. Complaints from community members in attendance ensued.
“Those of you who were involved (in the meetings with Dan) should have walked away—that was a violation of the Open Meetings Act right there,” Taylor said. “Unless it’s in the meeting minutes, it’s irrelevant. It’s a moot point. It’s done—it’s dead. I guarantee you that all of these comments about what Dan said are not in the meeting minutes.”
Jesseman at one point during the meeting responded to many comments similar to those made by Taylor.
“I believe you’re right,” Jesseman said. “I was part of it. There were lots of things that were wrong. Everyone’s responsible and everyone’s culpable.
As trustees, we maybe didn’t do enough due diligence. People say I did it to be popular. I didn’t do it to be popular. I did it to do the right thing.”
Jesseman stated that he thought he has held up his end of the bargain of putting the situation to bed, to which an individual in the public stated “Don’t put (Nagel) in jail, then.”
“I’m not putting him in jail,” Jesseman said. “You’re making this stuff up.”
Another member of the public commented that the board members’ “feathers were getting rustled” and that they were trying to “gain control” of the situation.
“You guys are attacking me. I stand up and try and defend myself,” Jesseman said. “If Dan did nothing wrong, why didn’t he show up? He’s sent his winged monkeys out … why don’t you look at the evidence instead of your friendship?”
Board members went into closed session to determine the next course of action, per the request of those in attendance at the meeting. Board members returned later with the following statement, which Davis read aloud.
“The board discussed possible litigation issues. The Township Board is united in its desire to move forward and put this matter behind us,” he said. “The board will not seek any criminal prosecution. The board may seek the return of items in question.”
A motion to adjourn was then approved.