DuPage college trustee allegedly urged to destroy public record
A College of DuPage trustee was apparently advised to destroy a public record by former legal counsel while several criminal investigations were taking place at the college, according to documents obtained by the Edgar County Watchdogs, a public advocacy group.
In January 2016, attorney Respicio Vazquez of Franczek Radelet P.C., a former legal counsel to the college, sent an email to Trustee Dianne McGuire instructing her to destroy an email from her school email account. The email said he was following up on a voicemail he had left.
“FYI – Per my phone message, please delete the email from your COD email account ASAP," the email reads. "There may be a backup but it may be deleted from the COD system after a some [sic] brief period."
The advocacy group printed the email on its Illinois Leaks website. The group also pointed out that Illinois law bars the destruction of public documents and doing so can result in criminal charges. Public documents can be disposed of only if given proper clearance by the Local Records Commission.
Kirk Allen, co-founder of the Edgar County Watchdogs, told the West Cook News that Vazquez’s email to McGuire is disconcerting.
“Anytime we have a licensed attorney giving advice to destroy public records it should concern us,” Allen said. “This attorney is not only instructing a public official of a higher education institution to destroy records; he points out that those very records may be backed up, but it may be deleted from the COD system after some brief period. Such deletions of public records without proper permission would constitute a felony action under our state Local Records Act.”
Vazquez served as legal counsel for the college’s board of trustees for several years. During his tenure, his legal advice brought a prosecution against the trustees in 2016 for violating the Illinois' Open Meetings Act (OMA).
According to a complaint filed on March 17, 2016, by County of DuPage State’s Attorney Robert Berlin, the trustees violated the OMA after Vazquez advised the board to vote via a show of hands in a closed session to confirm a contract extension for former college President Robert Breuder.
Per Berlin’s complaint, the 2014 vote was not repeated in an open meeting and was therefore a violation of the OMA’s provisions preventing final action votes from taking place behind closed doors. The legal complaint invalidated the vote and ceased Breuder’s contract.
“Considering this is the same attorney who advised his clients to vote with a showing of hands raised in closed session, we question his ability to represent any public body,” Allen said.
Vazquez is now vying for one of three open seats on the River Forest Village Board.
Vazquez did not list his work with the College of DuPage Board of Trustees on his candidate statement.
“I am currently a partner at Franczek Radelet P.C. representing ... community colleges and state universities. I have prepared for and attended many public board meetings, including participating in open and closed sessions of such public meetings,” he wrote.