Library board members facing misconduct charges

News-DemocratJanuary 27, 2014 

— Two library board members face charges of awarding bids for roofing work at the East Alton Public Library to a company owned by their daughters.

In June 2013, the East Alton Library Board awarded a $19,997 roofing contract to BCK 1 LLC, the lowest bidder. Two months later, the board voted to rescind the contract after library manager Richard Chartrand informed it that two board members, Van and Eileen Long, both in the 70s, were connected to the firm.

The business is registered to their daughters, Kimberly and Christine Long.

The Longs abstained from rescinding the bid and according to the minutes, said they were unaware of a conflict of interest. Efforts to reach them or their daughters were unsuccessful Monday. A phone number listed for the couple has been disconnected.

Madison County State's Attorney Tom Gibbons said that the Longs were active with the company and able to make financial transactions.

Gibbons said he decided to press charges against the Longs because they voted on the contract and did not disclose their financial interest in it.

"Instead of using their positions to serve the public good, they knowingly voted for a contract where they would be rewarded financially," Gibbons said. "When you violate the public's trust, regardless of your position, we will hold you accountable."

Van Long, 72, and Eileen Long, 70, of East Alton were charged with one count each of official misconduct, a Class 3 felony, and one count of prohibited interest in contracts, a Class 4 felony. Penalties range from probation to 2-5 years in prison for the Class 3 count, and probation to 1-3 years in prison for the Class 4 count.

Bail was set at $20,000. The Longs are not in custody.

Madison County court records show a handful of ordinance violations against Van Long, doing business as BCK 1 LLC. State's attorney spokeswoman Stephanee Smith said the Longs were "fully involved" in the roofing business and able to write checks on its accounts.

The East Alton Public Library is a separate taxing body rather than a department of city government. As such, the board members are elected directly by the public, not appointed. That means the Longs cannot be removed unless they are convicted or plead guilty.

As of Monday, the couple had not resigned their positions on the board. Eileen Long's term expires in 2015; Van Long's term expires in 2017.

Chartrand, the library manager, confirmed that the roofing contract was rescinded immediately. "The taxpayers are not out a single penny," he said.

However, the work still has not been done on the library's 25-year-old roof. "It can't be, not until all of this is sorted out," Chartrand said. "And it won't be, even if I have to carry buckets."

Contact reporter Elizabeth Donald at edonald@bnd.com or 239-2507.

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