Metro-East News

State: Another parole board member’s bankruptcy under investigation

Illinois Parole Board member Adam Monreal helps an attendee at a workshop on expungement of criminal records.
Illinois Parole Board member Adam Monreal helps an attendee at a workshop on expungement of criminal records.

While serving as chairman of the Illinois parole board at a salary of $91,400, Adam P. Monreal signed a sworn document during a bankruptcy proceeding four years ago stating that his actual annual income was $38,673, according to court documents and state payroll records.

Because his reported $38,673 salary fell below a guideline annual income of $72,240 for a family of five, Monreal and his wife qualified for Chapter 7 protection. Their debts were forgiven. They kept their car and $315,000 home.

Monreal is no longer chairman of the parole board but still serves on the board as a member at a salary of $86,000. The board’s chairman is paid more than other board members.

After receiving questions last week from the News-Democrat regarding Monreal’s stated earnings of $3,222 a month at the time his bankruptcy was filed on May 4, 2011 — compared to state salary records that show he was then making $7,622 a month — the office of Gov. Bruce Rauner launched an investigation.

“The administration is investigating claims made on Adam Monreal’s bankruptcy filing documents and will determine any necessary action upon the conclusion of that investigation,” Rauner spokeswoman Catherine Kelly stated in a written response.

Written requests for comment directed to Monreal and left with Ken Tupy, attorney for the Prisoner Review Board, were not returned. Neither Monreal nor his wife could otherwise be reached for comment.

It was the second time in 10 days that Rauner’s office, in response to questions from News-Democrat reporters about a parole board member’s bankruptcy, has said an investigation has been launched.

The bankruptcy filing of parole board member Eric E. Gregg, who is a former Harrisburg mayor, is also under investigation, according to the governor’s office. Gregg gave a sworn statement in his pending bankruptcy that he earned about $48,000 per year from a source along with his $86,000 salary as a parole board member. State law prohibits a member of the parole board from having outside income.

Gregg has since said the additional pay should have been entered under his wife’s name, although she was listed under “non-filing spouse” on their bankruptcy petition.

Kelly did not respond to a question this week about the progress of the Gregg investigation

Another parole board member, Vonetta Harris of Swansea, filed for bankruptcy in May stating that she owed $11,000 to the IRS for unpaid income taxes and $306,000 in student loans. Harris was recommended for the job in 2013 by Sen. James Clayborne, D-Belleville. She reported her state salary as $86,000.

The News-Democrat previously reported that in December 2014, Harris was seen pulling a car out of Clayborne’s garage at 7:30 a.m., although their exact relationship remains unclear.

Monreal, 48, of Chicago, is an attorney and former assistant Cook County state’s attorney. He also has worked as the assistant to the mayor for public safety of the City of Chicago. Before he took on the review board job, Monreal was supervisor of the Workers’ Compensation Fraud Unit for the Illinois Department of Insurance at a salary of $77,000.

Shari Murphy, a Wood River attorney who specializes in bankruptcy cases, reviewed Monreal’s bankruptcy paperwork for the News-Democrat.

“Common sense would just tell you that anybody with that important of a position would make more money than that,” she said concerning the bankruptcy statement’s listing of an annual income of $38,673.

Murphy said that besides signing documents under penalty of perjury, debtors are asked during a hearing whether their information is correct and truthful.

“The trustee asks certain foundational questions of all debtors,” she said. “What most of them ask is, did you sit down with an attorney or somebody and review all the paperwork before you signed it and authorized your attorney to file it? Did you check it for accuracy and that you have personal knowledge of the answers contained there?”

While Monreal was chairman of the prisoner review board when the bankruptcy was filed, a different state job is listed for him in his bankruptcy records. The federal court case file’s Document 12 — Current Income of Individual Debtor — states that Monreal was the “Director, State of Illinois Penitentiary.”

The director of the state prison system at the time that Monreal filed for bankruptcy was S.A. “Tony” Godinez, who made a salary of $150,200. The official name for the parole board is the Illinois Prisoner Review Board.

Bankruptcy documents filed under the supervision of bankruptcy trustee Eugene Crane, a Chicago attorney, stated that Monreal possessed just $200 cash, home furnishings and electronic equipment worth $600, and $200 in clothing. He listed his monthly take-home pay as $2,773 and monthly expenses of $3,335 that included a $2,485 mortgage payment. After the house payment, $288 per month was left for the family’s living expenses. His wife, Nora Monreal, reported no income.

Crane, in an interview, said he could not recall the case. In the final report to the bankruptcy judge, Crane wrote, “I have made a diligent inquiry into the financial affairs of the debtors.”

Jane Limprecht, spokeswoman for the U.S. Trustee Program in Chicago, which oversees bankruptcies filed in Illinois, declined comment on whether any investigation is being conducted into Monreal’s bankruptcy case. “As a general policy, we do not comment on cases, or confirm or deny the existence of a referral for investigation,” she said.

Contact reporter George Pawlaczyk at gpawlaczyk@bnd.com or 618-239-2625. Follow him on Twitter: @gapawlaczyk. Contact reporter Beth Hundsdorfer at bhundsdorfer@bnd.com or 618-239-2570. Follow her on Twitter: @bhundsdorfer.

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