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updated: 2/2/2018 6:02 PM

Prospect Heights condo association accuses residents of defamation

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  • The River Trails Condominium Association is suing some residents, claiming they defamed board members during an ongoing dispute over whether to convert the condos into apartments.

      The River Trails Condominium Association is suing some residents, claiming they defamed board members during an ongoing dispute over whether to convert the condos into apartments.
    Christopher Placek | Staff Photographer

 
 

A condo association in Prospect Heights is suing outspoken residents who oppose converting the condominiums into apartments, claiming recitations of Bible verses referring to board members as "wicked" and other statements defame their character.

River Trails Condominium Association board members filed the defamation lawsuit against residents Francisco Ruiz, Janusz Stanowski and Vijay Krishnan in mid-January. It's the latest salvo in a bitter dispute between some residents and the association's board, which wants to convert the condos south of Palatine Road and west of Milwaukee Avenue.

The lawsuit claims the defendants made numerous recklessly false statements, including saying the board abused due process, association employees made threats and the association failed to account for rents received from units.

The lawsuit also mentions the defendants' statements that "in Jesus Name we will defeat sin." That suggests that the "board is a bunch of sinners and oppressors, even despite one of the members of the board being a pastor," the lawsuit says.

The association is seeking at least $30,000 in damages from each of the three defendants.

Stuart Fullett, an attorney for the association's board, did not immediately return a phone call Friday.

Ruiz, who over the past year has led protests and an unsuccessful vote to remove the entire association board, said the defamation lawsuit was a political attack ahead of an election of association board members last Tuesday.

The three defendants named in the lawsuit were all candidates for the board, he said. Though Ruiz was not elected, Stanowski and Krishnan did win seats on the board, Ruiz said.

As for referring to association board members as wicked and "the devil" through his use of Bible verses, Ruiz defended the statements.

"Doesn't he know that we're all sinners?" Ruiz said.

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