Wheaton history group leader argues $300K transferred to her was for back pay, rent, loan

The CEO of a Wheaton history organization maintains that the nearly $301,000 the nonprofit transferred to her was for rent, back pay and a loan.

That's a defense Alberta Adamson will get to use to fight allegations by the Illinois attorney general that the Wheaton Historic Preservation Council, of which she was also president, was wrong to give her the money and that it committed fraud on its state registration paperwork.

DuPage County Associate Judge Joseph Bugos ruled Thursday against Kwame Raoul's office, which had asked to prevent such an argument. He also denied its request to immediately remove Adamson and a council board member from their positions.

The case was continued until April 13.

In 2019, people complained to the attorney general about the council. After an investigation, Raoul filed the lawsuit in late November 2021.

On her LinkedIn profile, Adamson says she helped found the council in 1980. The council operated the Center for History, first in a house on North Main Street and later in a downtown location that closed in 2014.

Since 2012, museum artifacts have been stored in an unspecified city building, in an arrangement the council made with the city.

The suit originally was filed against Adamson, the organization and two women who were board members.

One woman was removed from the suit in November in exchange for cooperation with the investigation and because she was not on the board when some of the actions took place. She died in December.

The attorney general alleges the council loaned $120,000 to Adamson and later told the IRS it was compensation. The suit also alleges that in 2018 the council gave her $72,000, with a note on the check saying it was for rent, but that it has not supplied any documents explaining the expense. In addition, the attorney general alleges the council paid Adamson $109,303 in 2021 for unknown purposes. On financial documents it filed with the attorney general's charitable trust bureau, the council did not list any deferred compensation, back pay or other obligations to Adamson, according to the lawsuit. It was required to do so, the attorney general argues, and because the documents were submitted under penalty of perjury, fraud may have been committed, according to the suit.

In an answer to the suit, Adamson's attorney argues that minutes of the council's board meetings show there was a rental agreement. He also argues that the state's forms don't have a space for listing deferred compensation.

The two sides are also arguing over the meaning of the term "deferred compensation."

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