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updated: 2/15/2013 5:59 AM

Grafton Township to refund problematic donation

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A Huntley neighborhood group that sent money to the wrong food pantry by mistake will receive a refund, the Grafton Township Board agreed Thursday night.

But a move for the township to punish itself by donating an additional $1,300 to the Grafton Food Pantry, which should have gotten the neighborhood group's money in the first place, went nowhere.

As a result, the township is only expected to refund the $1,080 in donations that were made incorrectly.

The whole situation started back in November after Neighborhood 12 within the Sun City retirement community raised $1,080 for the Grafton Food Pantry as part of an annual food drive.

But a resident new to the neighborhood delivered the checks to Township Supervisor Linda Moore's food pantry, unaware there were two food pantries in Huntley.

Gerald LaBonte, chairman for Neighborhood 12, tried to get the money back from Moore multiple times. She refused to return it saying she needed proof that the people wanted it back, and later referred him to her attorney.

She also accused LaBonte of using the issue to ruin her chances of re-election so close to the Feb. 26 Republican primary, where she faces two challengers.

LaBonte finally brought the matter to the full board last month and asked trustees to intervene. The money, he says, was meant for the Grafton Food Pantry, not the one Moore runs, which is called the Grafton Township Food Pantry.

"It's not a political issue, it's an ethical issue," LaBonte said Thursday.

The board voted 3-0 to return the money to the residents -- Moore, trustees Gerald McMahon and Barbara Murphy approved the measure. Meanwhile, trustee Betty Zirk abstained because she's treasurer of the Grafton Food Pantry and Trustee Rob LaPorta was absent.

But McMahon, who lives in Sun City, said the township wasn't going far enough to make the community whole.

He suggested the township also donate an additional $1,300 to the Grafton Food Pantry as a punishment for the delay in the refunds.

"I want to rectify and I want to reward the pantry," McMahon said.

But Moore said there wasn't enough money because the board had just spent $330,000 on assorted bills and only had $8,000 left.

McMahon was infuriated and said that was because of all the money the township has spent on Moore's legal conflicts.

"All this person has done is brought $800,000 in legal bills ... and because of that, we should deny some charity their rightful money?," McMahon asked. "I'd rather see a charity get the money, some poor person get the money, than lawyers get the money, because (Moore) wants the lawyers to get the money."

Murphy agreed the board should make the donation, but not until the township can afford it.

That wasn't enough for McMahon and Murphy called the vote a few minutes later, which ended all discussion.

Pantry: Board voted 3-0 to return money

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