Metro-East News

Embattled parole board members are out

Gov. Bruce Rauner on Friday removed a member of the state parole board and another submitted his resignation a month after the Belleville News-Democrat reported on improprieties in their federal bankruptcy filings and economic interest statements filed with the state.

Former Harrisburg mayor Eric E. Gregg, a Republican, was removed from the Illinois Prisoner Review Board and former board chairman Adam P. Monreal, a Chicago Democrat, resigned effective in two weeks, according to a written statement released by the governor’s press office Friday afternoon.

The governor’s office began investigating the two after news stories by the News-Democrat.

The BND reported that Gregg made statements in his pending bankruptcy documents that he earned $48,000 more than his state parole board salary. State law prohibits members from having income from outside employment while serving on the parole board.

The newspaper also reported that Monreal, a former assistant prosecutor in Cook County, reported in his bankruptcy case in 2011 that he made less than half his board salary of $91,400 and also listed additional income on his economic statement.

Monreal and Gregg could not be reached for comment.

Whether your conduct constitutes willful criminal violations or whether your belated efforts to correct the conduct are sufficient to cure any possible criminal violations is for law enforcement officials to decide.

Jason Barclay, general counsel to the governor

During the two weeks until his last day, Monreal will not be hearing parole cases, said Allie Bovis, a spokeswoman for the governor’s office.

In a letter to Gregg, Jason Barclay, general counsel to the governor’s office, wrote, “Your false bankruptcy statement may constitute a violation” of federal law “that says it is unlawful to knowingly and willingly make any materially false, fictitious or fraudulent statement” in a bankruptcy procedure.

Barclay’s letter also addressed Gregg’s claim that he mistakenly placed the $48,000 of extra income under his name instead of his wife’s name, after the News-Democrat raised questions about it.

“It is not a defense that at the time you signed your Statement of Economic Interests it was truthful, but it was false more than 11 months later when it was formally filed with the secretary of state.”

Barclay also wrote, “Whether your conduct constitutes willful criminal violations or whether your belated efforts to correct the conduct are sufficient to cure any possible criminal violations is for law enforcement officials to decide.”

No further information was available concerning Monreal’s resignation.

Both Monreal and Gregg were currently making $85,850, and serving on the parole board is considered a full-time job.

Federal court records show that Monreal listed his gross earnings as $38,673 at a time when his parole board pay was $91,400 per year. The difference, as listed in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy form, is $3,222 a month instead of $7,622 per month. By listing the lower amount, Monreal and his wife’s bankruptcy application qualified for Chapter 7 protection, which did not require them to repay any debts or lose their home.

On a line on a federal form where Monreal was required to list his exact employment, it read, “Director State of Illinois Penitentiary.” It was not clear why this job was listed instead of his membership on the state parole board, which is a separate entity from the Illinois Department of Corrections.

Both Gregg and Monreal were required to state under penalty of perjury that they had personally reviewed the details of their bankruptcy filings. This was done in open court in the presence of a bankruptcy trustee, an independent attorney who works with a bankruptcy judge.

While Gregg has declined to comment, his wife, Patti Gregg, a full-time teacher’s aide, told the BND that she earned the $48,000 listed in her husband’s bankruptcy, even though the paperwork noted that she was a “non-filinng” spouse.

A total of four parole board members including Gregg and Monreal have filed for bankruptcy, including board member Vonetta Harris, of Swansea, a former program director for School District 189 in East St. Louis, filed this year. Court documents show she owes $306,000 in student loans and $11,000 in federal income taxes. She was nominated for the parole board job by Sen. James Clayborne, D-Belleville. In December, the BND reported that Harris was seen leaving the garage at Clayborne’s home at 7 a.m. However, the exact nature of their relationship is unclear.

George Pawlaczyk: 618-239-2625, @gapawlaczyk