Christina Stueve Hodges Mar. 5, 2013, 3:05pm

Eight securities companies are suing Madison County Treasurer Kurt Prenzler for $5.6 million.

A lawsuit was filed Feb. 22 in Madison County Circuit Court by Algonquin Securities, Cardinal Securities, Land of Lincoln Securities, Monarch Securities, Prairie State Securities, Violet Securities, White Oak Securities and Windy City Securities.

According to the lawsuit, the plaintiffs collectively purchased $1.3 million in tax certificates at the annual Madison County tax sale on Feb. 22, 2012. In exchange for the receipt of $1.3 million, the defendant issued 390 tax certificates.

Prenzler is accused of violating state law by conducting the 2012 delinquent tax sale without obtaining a court order.

The plaintiffs claim Prenzler’s conduct bestowed a benefit upon himself and Madison County at their expense.

“With a reckless disregard for the truth and by culpable ignorance Defendant Prenzler fraudulently misrepresented to the plaintiffs that the annual delinquent tax sale was held pursuant to judicial proceedings,” the suit stated.

If the plaintiffs knew the annual delinquent tax sale had not been held pursuant to judicial proceedings, they would not have purchased the 390 tax certificates.

The securities companies claim they incurred $1,297,292 in fees to obtain the 390 certificates of purchase including costs in the amount of $6,143 associated with serving notice for the 390 certificates and have accrued interest through June 6, 2012, in the amount of $7,348 on the 390 certificates of purchase.

They also claim to have suffered costs associated with preparing for the tax sale, loss of interest, loss or real estate equity and the lost chance of obtaining real property through the tax deed process for $5,581,654.

State law says that “if any Treasurer of any county in the state neglects to perform any of the duties required by him, he shall forfeit a sum of not less than $50 and not exceeding $1,000, according to the nature and aggravation of the offense,” the lawsuit stated.

The securities companies claim Prenzler’s failure to obtain a court order is without reasonable excuse, has caused great damage to the plaintiffs, other tax buyers and the citizens of Madison County, and as such, the plaintiffs seek the maximum forfeiture allowed by law for each of the plaintiffs’ 390 certificates of purchase.

Mark McLean of McCarthy, Leonard & Kaemmerer represents the plaintiffs.

The case is assigned to Madison County Circuit Judge William Mudge.

Madison County case number 13-L-286

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