An attorney from the Ancel Glink law firm responded with questions of motive and character after Oak Brook Village board member Michael Manzo sent a letter in July to the former village attorney Stewart Diamond, demanding the return of just over $100,000 paid by the village for the work. on the village’s 2017 lawsuit to have red light cameras removed from Route 83 and 22nd Street in Oakbrook Terrace.
Keri-Lyn Kraftthefer said the response to Manzo’s letter was sent on behalf of Ancel Glink to all village council members. Diamond is a partner in this company.
Oak Brook Village Chairman Gopal Lalmalani said he saw Ancel Glink’s letter.
“But it’s a matter between Ancel Glink’s Keri-Lyn and Manzo,” he said. “The Village of Oak Brook is not in it.”
Krafthefer said part of Ancel Glink’s letter ordered Manzo to stop defaming the firm and its lawyers.
“We have asked Mr. Manzo to retract his lies, but he is unlikely to do so,” she said. “We have known Michael Manzo for over 25 years. He is not a particularly honest, ethical or moral person. He is unlikely to suddenly become honourable.
Krafthefer said Manzo’s letter appeared to come only from him, not from a serious request from the Village of Oak Brook. Manzo did not dispute that the letter was solely from him.
“It was very clear in my letter that this was from me and no one else,” he said. “What I find interesting is that the response to my letter doesn’t deal so much with the response to my assertion that Stewart did not represent Oak Brook in our lawsuit. Instead, it’s more of an attack on me and the history I had with Chris Welch 20 years ago.
Ancel Glink’s response letter indicates that Manzo has for decades harbored significant personal animosity against Ancel Glink and Welch, the current Speaker of the House in Illinois, who is an attorney at that law firm.
Manzo and Welch allegedly butted heads in 2001 when Manzo was on the Proviso Township High School District 209 Council and was chased by Ancel Glink and Welch when Welch was trying to run for office for the first time.
“We treat this as a personal attempt by you before election season to gain popularity within the community rather than a serious request from the Village of Oak Brook,” Ancel Glink’s response letter reads. .
Manzo denied this and said it wasn’t really relevant regardless.
“They can question my motives all they want,” he said. “My motive for this is that I truly believe Stewart did a terrible job representing Oak Brook in the red light trial. But my motivation to ask for the money to be returned to the village doesn’t really matter if my request is correct, and I stand behind what I said.
Ancel Glink, in his response letter to Manzo, states that he had specific views on how the litigation should proceed, which were not shared by the majority of the village council at the time.
“Specifically, you want us to aggressively focus on bribery of government officials in the red-light camera permit process,” the letter said. “However, when we asked you for factual information so that we could put forward the arguments you wanted, you had no concrete facts or evidence – you only had suspicions. Any refusal you felt from us regarding advancing the arguments you wanted was the result of there being no evidence to support your theories at that time.
Ultimately, corruption involving former state senator Martin Sandoval came to light in 2020, and the Illinois Department of Transportation ordered Oakbrook Terrace in May to remove red light cameras. Diamond said in July that even if Manzo was right about the corruption involved in the permit issued to operate the cameras, there was no way at the time to know.
Ancel Glink declares that he carried out all of his work on the trial in a professional and competent manner, and at a reasonable cost, given the nature of the dispute.
“At the time, although the lawsuit did not achieve the immediate results desired by the village council, the council understood why it proceeded as it did and ordered the lawsuit dismissed,” indicates the letter. “We followed the direction of the majority of the village council. For these reasons, the compensation we received was reasonable for the work we performed on this emergency litigation for the Village, and we will not return it.
The letter also states that Ancel Glink believes Manzo should “do the honorable thing” and publicly retract its “published lies” and that the company will take appropriate legal action if Manzo continues to make false claims about Ancel Glink or his lawyers. .
Manzo again mentioned his issues on Friday with the board’s decision in 2017 to drop the lawsuit not by a vote in open session, but rather behind closed doors, after a public vote was held for the decision. to continue the trial in the first place.
In late July, Diamond disputed Manzo’s claim that the attorney told counsel that it was appropriate to vote behind closed doors on dropping the lawsuit, saying a vote should be taken in public.
The village president, Gopal Lalmalani, said in June 2017, after the decision to drop the case, that the discussion and the decision to drop the case was not conducted in public because the village legal adviser did not had not advised the council to follow this procedure.
Manzo and former board member Don Adler were the two directors who spoke out against dropping the lawsuit after the decision to do so was made.
Adler wrote in a Feb. 3, 2017, email that he continued to be troubled by the handling of the lawsuit by Diamond and his law firm.
Adler wrote that Diamond was co-counsel for the lawsuit with Frank Avila, “who was arraigned on the matter due to dissatisfaction with the lack of progress and direction ‘by Ancel Glink and Diamond’ after two months at the wheel.
“Unfortunately, (Diamond) did not cooperate with Mr. Avila or consider his input or comments,” Adler wrote.
Chuck Fieldman is a freelance journalist for Pioneer Press.