Darien Police Department officials have confirmed that one time trustee and the Treasurer for the Board of the Tri-State Fire Protection District, Michael Orrico, was facing charges related to him not disclosing that he had a vested interest in the company, Fire Service Inc. when completing the Economic Disclosure Statement that he was required to complete before he became a trustee of the Tri-State Fire Protection District.
This case was first brought to the attention of the public through a series of articles published in Illinois Leaks by Edgar County Watchdogs.
The Statute covering this particular offence states that it is a Class A misdemeanor to either fail to note economic interests or to falsify the nature of such interests in the statement that must be completed in terms of Statute 5 ILCS420/4A-107.
Orrica allegedly fell afoul of this statute by not reporting his employment contract with Fire Service Inc.
The arraignment hearing was scheduled for Oct. 11 and Orrico’s attorney filed for a continuance. The case was continued a week later.
Edgar County Watchdogs were alerted to irregularities in the purchase of three new ambulances, paid for by taxpayers. It was found that the proposals were requested instead of bids and that various companies did put in offers. The lowest offer was by Alexis Fire at $161,935 per ambulance. The other offers ranged between this and $181,150. The offers were all submitted via email to Tri-State and the Tri-State elected not to seal offers.
Fire Service Inc. put in an offer for the new ambulances and also an offer for a second-hand ambulance, at $170,000. Despite the fact that there were better offers on the table, it appears that the offer from Fire Services was the only one that was actually considered. Fire Services Inc. provided two brand new ambulances at $166,087 and R169,702 in terms of the proposal request. The third ambulance, the second-hand one, was supplied by Fire Services Inc. without the proper procedures being followed, for an amount of $167,965.
The uproar occurred when the Edgar County Watchdogs made public that Orrico was in the employ of Fire Service Inc. Not only had he neglected to mention this on the Economic Disclosure Statement when it came to the position of trustee but he also neglected to mention it when Tri-State was considering which company to buy the ambulances from.
According to the watchdog group, the statute could not be clearer when it states that neither trustees nor employees in service of the district may hold a financial interest, either directly or indirectly, when it comes to work or goods contracted by the district nor may they have a financial interest in any contract/ transaction which involves the district selling an asset either for the raising of taxes or for legal reasons.
The first article published by Illinois Leaks on the 6th August was followed with a range of updates in relation to other irregular dealings that the investigation had uncovered. In addition to the issue of the ambulances, it was found that Orrico had bought a residence on the 21st of April 2015 in Joliet and had benefited from a tax exemption when it came to property tax. There is nothing illegal in that except that, because the home was outside of the district, it made Orrico ineligible to stand as trustee for the Tri-State FPD.
Orrico attempted to get the Edgar County Watchdogs to back off by issuing Kirk Allen with a cease and desist letter. Allen tried numerous times to get in touch with Orrico and was consistently told that Orrico was notifying both him and Illinois Leaks that he was enacting a cease and desist notice against Allen as regards future contact. Orrico claimed that Allen’s attempts at contact amounted to harassment and threatened him with legal action should the attempts continue.
Allen was quick to highlight the fact that those in the media are entitled to make contact with those in public office in order to find out more information about their actions while in office. As Orrico was a trustee, he was considered to be holding public office and so Allen was entitled to question him when it came to details about the position held and whether or not he would be resigning the position.
After Illinois Leaks published the information about Orrico’s ineligibility due to his place of residence and the distinct conflict of interest in the case of the ambulance purchase, Orrico did resign his post.