Lawsuit: Dundee Twp. park president took millions from late aunt, cousin over decades

  • Frank Scarpelli is being sued by his cousin, who argues he stole an estimated $2.8 million from trusts and estates over a 20-year period.

    Frank Scarpelli is being sued by his cousin, who argues he stole an estimated $2.8 million from trusts and estates over a 20-year period.

 
 
Updated 1/23/2018 3:12 PM

The Dundee Township Park District president and grandson of a prominent Carpentersville developer is being sued to have his divorce put on hold until a lawsuit that accuses him of stealing $2.8 million from his cousin and deceased aunt is resolved.

Citing "irreconcilable differences," Margaret "Peg" Scarpelli filed for divorce in Kane County September 2017 from her husband since 1989, Frank Scarpelli, of East Dundee.

 

Two months later, Frank's cousin, Anne Marie Poincelet, moved to have a judge stop the divorce case until a 2015 Cook County lawsuit ran its course, court records show.

Poincelet, of Chicago, argues Frank Scarpelli systematically siphoned millions while overseeing and administering the estates and trusts of Poincelet and her mother, Pamela, over two decades.

"Frank, acting in a position of trust and confidence, willingly, wantonly and fraudulently deceived the individuals who trusted him," read part of the suit.

Pamela Poincelet was one of eight children to Leonard Besinger, who developed numerous malls and shopping centers in and around Carpentersville, including the Meadowdale Subdivision. Frank is Besinger's grandson, and the family business includes income from several Meadowdale apartment buildings and Meadowdale Shopping Center.

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Changing venue

The motion to delay the divorce case argues Scarpelli is trying to have the matter handled in Kane County so he and his wife can divvy up the money, which is in various accounts and trusts under their control.

"This 'divorce' proceeding is another attempt by the Scarpellis to create impediments to Anne Marie's recovery by obtaining court orders disposing of that property," Poincelet's attorney, Amy Doehring, argued in court papers. "The Scarpellis are attempting to shift venue of proceedings relating to the trusts from Cook County to Kane County -- indeed they expressly seek to dispose in this court of the property held in the trusts. This is not the first time the Scarpellis have tried to do this. In fact, it is the third."

The lawsuit seeks the return of at least $2.8 million -- with a final amount determined by the court -- as well as attorney fees and punitive damages for breach of fiduciary duty, constructive fraud, breach of contract and negligence.

"When viewed in its entirely, (Poincelet's) motion, replete with hearsay, conclusions, speculation and misstatements, is a classic example of an improper attempt to influence this court through improper pleading, aspersions and innuendo, in lieu of evidence," wrote Rory Weiler, the lawyer for Margaret Scarpelli in the divorce case.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The matter is due in Kane County court for oral arguments Tuesday.

Multiple messages seeking comment from Frank Scarpelli were not returned.

17 years of 'schemes'

Although the 2015 lawsuit by Poincelet accuses Frank Scarpelli of theft, he does not face any criminal charges.

According to the lawsuit, Pamela Poincelet in 1994 gave him authority and control to manage her finances and trusts for her daughter. Scarpelli was appointed executor of her estate after Pamela's 2011 death.

"Instead of caring for his aunt's assets and guarding her interests, Frank persistently has pilfered money from the accounts and properties that were entrusted to his care," the suit argues. "In short, for approximately 17 years, Frank systematically stole from his incapacitated aunt. Then, after her death, for the last four years, Frank continued his schemes and stole from his cousin, Anne Marie."

During this time, according to the lawsuit, Scarpelli took money by: diverting rental income, especially cash rental payments, from properties owned by Pamela Poincelet into his own accounts; paying personal expenses by falsifying invoices for work on Pamela's properties; and taking funds from Poincelet's trusts to make repairs at his rental properties and to grow his real estate portfolio.

Frank Scarpelli took $2,806,037, according to the suit. The total is a "conservative" estimate because documents for many years are missing or destroyed.

More legal woes

The law firm Frank Scarpelli hired to defend him against Poincelet's 2015 litigation recently filed its own lawsuit in Kane County against him, arguing Scarpelli still owes $112,624 in attorney fees.

In the suit, Meyers and Flowers is seeking payment from Scarpelli for work done between March 2015 and November 2017. Andrew Kolb, an attorney representing Meyers and Flowers, said the firm was hired to defend Scarpelli against the 2015 Cook County lawsuit, but declined further comment.

Scarpelli, acting as his own attorney in the lawsuit brought by Meyers and Flowers, admitted in court papers to hiring the firm, but denied the firm withdrew from the lawsuit.

Scarpelli also argued the firm "misrepresented" its experience and expertise in commercial litigation, was "not competent" and "mishandled" the case by not adequately defending him and making it appear Scarpelli was "admitting guilt," according to court records.

This lawsuit will next come before a judge Feb. 13.

• Daily Herald staff writer Lauren Rohr contributed to this story.

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