Metro-East News

Councilwoman settles for $200,000 after she sued her own city

Collinsville City Councilwoman Cheryl Brombolich
Collinsville City Councilwoman Cheryl Brombolich File photo

City Councilwoman Cheryl Brombolich settled her federal lawsuit against the city for $200,000, according to documents released Tuesday.

The city released the documents in response to a Freedom of Information Act request by the Belleville News-Democrat.

Brombolich filed suit after her city credit card and tax-free city account usage came under scrutiny by other council members and in a series of investigative stories by the BND. She alleged in the suit that it was common practice to use the cards for personal purchases and for the employees to reimburse the city.

“This settlement represents a compromise. Neither side necessarily ‘won’ but my client and I are satisfied with the result,” said Brombolich’s lawyer Jack Daughtery. “I can say in response to the city’s press release that my client and I are satisfied that the city’s insurance carrier made a rational decision. We’re satisfied with this compromise.”

He said Brombolich would have no comment.

City officials could not be reached for comment.

Brombolich filed the suit in federal court in East St. Louis. Named in the suit were the city, former City Manager Scott Williams and a former councilman, Mike Tognarelli. In the suit, she alleged she was “forced” to resign as a city employee in 2014 and was embarrassed by the release of “private documents” because she was critical of her boss, Williams.

Williams is alleged in the suit to have aided personal friends in his capacity as city manager, including not disciplining a department head after a complaint of sexual harassment was filed against the individual by an employee whom Brombolich supervised at the time.

Brombolich alleged that after she complained about Williams’ performance as city manager, he, along with Tognarelli, sought to discredit her with documents both related and unrelated to her employment as city clerk.

During a May 2016 City Council meeting, the city manager and economic development director positions were consolidated and filled by Mitch Bair, who was the interim city manager, by a 3-2 vote. Mayor John Miller, Councilman Jeff Stehman and Counci

The documents were released to the News-Democrat in February 2016 after the city fought for eight months not to provide them. The BND filed suit and Madison County Associate Judge Don Flack ruled the documents are public records.

According to the documents, Brombolich used a city credit card or city account for a personal purchase at least 20 times over a decade in which she worked as city clerk and director of operations. City officials have said Brombolich later repaid all the money.

Documents show Brombolich also sent 131 text messages in a single day begging the finance director not to tell Williams about one of those personal purchases, claiming it was just a mistake. At the time, Brombolich was on administrative leave while Williams decided whether to fire her.

“Just let me take care of it and act like u never saw it,” Brombolich wrote on Sept. 11, 2014. She resigned four days later.

Beth Hundsdorfer: 618-239-2570, @bhundsdorfer

Rob Dorman discusses the non-binding referendums he wants on the November 2016 election ballot in Collinsville, Illinois, asking if Councilwoman Cheryl Brombolich and Mayor John Miller should resign. A judge from the Madison County, Illinois, cour

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