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Judge rules for Orland Park in La Margo lawsuit

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From staff reports

A Cook County judge last week ruled in favor of Orland Park, Mayor Keith Pekau and Trustee Bill Healy in a lawsuit was filed against them by former village manager Joseph La Margo.

In 2020, La Margo filed a lawsuit claiming breach of contract, defamation, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Attorneys for the village argued that La Margo had no basis to bring the claims. The village filed a number of counterclaims against La Margo for the breach of his employment agreement, breach of his resignation agreement, breach of the fiduciary duty he owed to the village, breach of loyalty he owed to the village, and for the unlawful conversion of village funds.

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Joseph La Margo

All of the relevant and undisputed facts were presented to the Circuit Court of Cook County and on June 12, 2023, the

On June 12, Judge John J. Curry ruled against every claim brought by La Margo. The court also ruled that the village could pursue all of its counterclaims against La Margo.

“I have been fighting this battle since the day I took office,” said Pekau.  “The previous board was still calling the shots and weaponizing La Margo in an attempt to tarnish my name and make it difficult to do my job and represent the people of Orland Park as they elected me to do.

“Since this lawsuit has been filed, I have been publicly saying that it was groundless and wholly devoid of any merit whatsoever and that the village and the other parties would prevail on all counts. It has taken some time to get to this point but that is exactly what has happened.

“I am happy to once again be fully exonerated from accusations brought forth by a former village manager who was hired to thwart the will of the people. It was an unfortunate waste of time and money that could have been avoided if former Village Manager La Margo had acted professionally instead of playing politics.”

“The village board exists for many reasons, one of them being checks and balances on spending to prevent abuse of taxpayer funds like this. This fabricated investigation was baseless and the $10,000 payment of taxpayer money to former Assistant Village Manager Karie Friling violated village

PEKAU CONGRESS ANNOUNCEMENT

Keith Pekau

policy and would have been stopped if the village board had known. We are delighted that the court has acknowledged that we were doing our jobs as elected public officials for the Village of Orland Park in denouncing La Margo’s illegal actions and has now entered a judgment in our favor on all of his frivolous claims. In order to hold him accountable for the unauthorized actions he took as the former Village Manager and in the effort to recover the Village tax dollars that were spent on his illegal activities, the village will now focus on its counterclaims against La Margo.”

“We are disappointed and disagree with the judge’s decision,” said La Margo, who is now city manager in Niles. “I’m discussing our options with my attorney and family. I always did my job with the highest integrity to the best of my ability with the best interest of the taxpayers and businesses of Orland Park in mind. “I did what I thought was the best thing to do.”

When he resigned as Orland’s village manager, La Margo told reporters that when he was made aware of public allegations about Pekau, he had a moral obligation as the village manager to look into it.

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