State lawsuit alleges Wheaton history group gave $300,000 illegally to board member

The Wheaton Historical Preservation Council is being sued by Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul, who alleges the council illegally transferred more than $300,000 to a board member.

Raoul announced the lawsuit on Wednesday. It was filed on Nov. 24 in DuPage County Circuit Court.

Board President Alberta Adamson, who was also its chief executive officer; Gloria Leetz; and Laurie Warfel are named in the suit.

Raoul opened an investigation after receiving complaints, according to the news release. It is alleged the council loaned $120,000 to Adamson and then tried to recharacterize it with the IRS as compensation, gave her $72,000 in 2018 that the council characterized as rent, and paid her $109,303 in 2021 for unknown purposes.

The lawsuit also raises concerns about the storage of the council's historical artifacts. In addition, it alleges the council is not registered with the attorney general's office, in violation of state law.

"The defendants allegedly took advantage of people who donated to the Wheaton Historical Preservation Council believing their donations would support the preservation of their community's history," Raoul said in a news release. "I filed this lawsuit to ensure that board members are held accountable, and my office will continue to hold individuals accountable for using charitable funds for their own benefit.

The council is a nonprofit organization that preserved the history of Wheaton. It had a museum and a collection of more than 37,000 artifacts.

According to the lawsuit, the museum arranged to store the artifacts in a city building in 2012. The museum closed in 2017.

The suit contends the three have refused to provide information - requested by the attorney general in administrative subpoenas - about the artifacts, the loan and other payments, and the museum's continuing to spend money after the museum closed.

Raoul wants the three removed from the council's board and a full accounting of the organization's funds, according to the news release. He also wants to hold the three women liable for all misused funds or those for which they are unable to account.

The lawsuit seeks repayment from them, plus potential fines of $50,000 for each disbursement.

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