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Monday, August 19, 2019

Former St. Jacob mayor files defamation suit against St. Jacob trustee

By Robbie Hargett | Nov 30, 2015

A former St. Jacob mayor is suing a current St. Jacob trustee for allegedly making defamatory statements to the Belleville-News Democrat.

Raymond Muniz filed a lawsuit on Oct. 26 in St. Clair County Circuit Court against Patricia "Pattie" Beil, alleging defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress and false light.

According to the complaint, Muniz, who served as mayor for St. Jacob from May 2001 to May 2013 and is currently a private citizen, says Beil, currently an elected trustee of St. Jacob, gave false and defamatory statements about Muniz to the Belleville-News Democrat.

The suit says the newspaper published an article Oct. 24, 2014, that contained Beil's statements and her call for a criminal investigation of Muniz, alleging "financial improprieties." Her statements were based on a July 2014 report provided to St. Jacob by an outside accounting firm, the lawsuit states. In the article, Beil represented the report to be a "forensic audit," according to the suit.

The suit alleges the report, which was intended only for St. Jacob's use, was incomplete and misleading, as it characterized several financial transactions as "questionable," relied on unsubstantiated remarks from an anonymous village resident and never suggested any criminal activity or actionable wrongdoing by any party.

The suit further alleges Beil should have known the questionable checks and/or expenditures actually had been approved, and that she was present for votes concerning some of the expenditures.

Beil was asked why the audit had not been turned over to Illinois State Attorney Tom Gibbons. "I wanted to get it in the newspaper first," Beil said, according to the suit.

Muniz seeks compensatory and exemplary damages, plus costs of the suit. He is represented by attorney Marleen Suarez of Suarez Law Office in Collinsville.

St. Clair County Circuit Court case number 15-L-606.

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