St. Clair County has denied allegations in a state court lawsuit seeking production of Treasurer Charles Suarez’s surety bonds in response to a bid rigging class action in federal court.
In a suit filed Oct. 21, Reinert Weishaar and Associates claims St. Clair County has failed to comply with a Freedom of Information Act request that seeks copies of the bonds issued on Suarez’s behalf.
The bonds could potentially allow members of the proposed class to recover damages.
The lawsuit at federal court alleges Suarez illegally rigged bids at sales of delinquent taxes to enrich Democratic campaign contributors.
Two couples sued Suarez and tax buyers in federal court on Oct. 17, alleging a conspiracy similar to one that sent former Madison County treasurer Fred Bathon to prison.
John Bloyer Jr., Adrianne Bloyer, Kevin Dvorak and Kathleen Dvorak, all of O’Fallon, claim the alleged conspirators artificially inflated interest rates at tax sales in 2007 and 2008.
The Bloyers’ and Dvoraks’ case initially had been assigned to Senior U.S. District Judge Phil Gilbert. But on Oct. 21, Gilbert transferred the case to the court clerk for reassignment. It was reassigned to U.S. District Judge Staci Yandle the same day.
The lawsuit filed at St. Clair County seeking production of the surety bonds from 2004 to the present, claims that attorney Aaron Weishaar was twice told by the County’s FOIA officer Sean Murley that the County had complied with the request and produced the documents.
Weishaar, however, states that the documents produced by Murley were not the ones sought in the FOIA request.
St. Clair County answered the complaint on Jan. 9, denying the allegations against it and accusing the plaintiff of failing to state a cause of action upon which relief can be granted.
The defendant also argues that if any responsive records have been withheld, the court should allow it to complete its review of the material in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act.
In addition to seeking production of the bonds, the suit asks for penalties to be assessed for the County’s alleged failure to comply with the FOIA request and for fees and costs of bringing the suit.
St. Clair County is represented by Garrett P. Hoerner of Becker, Hoerner, Thompson & Ysursa, P.C., in Belleville.
St. Clair County Circuit Court case number 14-AR-1148