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Article updated: 7/11/2013 10:39 PM

Island Lake to pay $20,000 to settle lawsuits

By Russell Lissau

A politically connected Island Lake resident will be paid $20,000 in exchange for dropping a lawsuit against the village, trustees agreed Thursday night.

Greg Jenkins, who was a chief financial supporter of Mayor Charles Amrich's For the People slate ahead of the April election, will receive the money in three installments starting Sept. 1, according to the agreement.

Jenkins attended Thursday's meeting but didn't stick around for the vote, which followed a 35-minute closed-door discussion at the end of the session.

Jenkins had filed his suit in Lake County circuit court against the village and political activists Daniel Field and Louis Sharp. Both men campaigned against Amrich and fought unsuccessfully to have him kicked off the ballot.

The complaint centered on a political website Field created. The site targeted Amrich, the candidates who ran with him and several of their supporters, including Jenkins.

The site contained a variety of allegations, some of which were removed before the site was shut down. It also reprinted police reports and other official documents, including some that concerned the Jenkins family.

Jenkins' suit accused Field, Sharp and village officials of defamation, libel, invasion of privacy and other acts.

As part of the settlement, Jenkins had to persuade another resident suing the village, Mike Johnson, to drop his federal lawsuit against the town.

Johnson did so Wednesday and isn't getting a dime, he told the Daily Herald after the board's vote.

Johnson, owner of Mike's Towing, also sued the village shortly before the election, claiming the police department's choice of a rival firm to tow cars violated his civil rights.

Johnson said he was glad to drop his case, especially because the primary targets -- ex-Mayor Debbie Herrmann and ex-Police Chief Bill McCorkle -- no longer are in power.

"Those people are gone and these people are here," Johnson said. "And they're doing the right thing."

The settlement was approved 4-0. Trustees Shannon Fox and Thea Morris were absent.

After the vote, Trustee Mark Beeson defended the payout. The sum is less than what Jenkins wanted, he said, and less than what the village would have paid in legal costs if the case went to court.

"I think it's a compromise," Beeson said.

Jenkins and his wife, Debra, made nearly $21,000 in campaign donations to Amrich's slate between January and April, state disclosure reports show. Of that sum, $1,750 was cash and nearly $19,247 was the value of donated food and website services, according to the reports.

Johnson donated $500 to Amrich's slate, too, records show. Mike's Towing now is the police department's primary towing company.

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