Attorneys for Cicero Town President Larry Dominick say there’s no reason he should be involved in a federal lawsuit that accuses House Speaker Mike Madigan of winning elections by recruiting “sham” candidates, contending a “personal political grudge” and “harassment” are behind the effort to drag Dominick into the case.
Lawyers for Jason Gonzales, a former primary challenger to Madigan who filed the lawsuit, offered no sound legal argument for demanding Dominick sit for a deposition, according to a response filed Thursday by Dominick’s attorney.
“When asked what the possible relevance of the town president’s deposition was, Gonzales’ attorneys were not really able to come up with anything substantive and kept repeating that ‘Larry is King’ and ‘Everyone knows he runs that Town,’” according to Dominick’s filing.
Gonzales’ attorneys on June 14 filed a motion claiming a man sent to deliver a subpoena to Dominick to appear for the deposition wound up being arrested by Cicero police and left shivering in a room with the air conditioning cranked up.
Gonzales is represented by Tony Peraica’s firm, and lawyers for Dominick claim Peraica has a “personal political grudge” against Dominick. A response filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois notes that in Peraica’s bid to hold on to his Cook County commissioner seat in 2010, Dominick endorsed challenger Jeffrey Tobolski. It also points to Peraica’s conviction for damaging Tobolski’s campaign signs a few days before the election, which Peraica lost.
“Regardless of in what ‘capacity’ Peraica seeks the deposition of Town President Dominick, it is unreasonable for Peraica to believe that a sitting mayor, who Peraica has a personal political grudge against related to Peraica’s own political defeats, would sit down to be questioned at a deposition unlimited in scope and without an attorney present to represent the town president in a case filed against the Speaker of the Illinois House and heavily covered by the media,” the filing says.
The filing says attorneys for the Town of Cicero sent correspondence to Gonzales’ attorney on June 18 after reading the Sun-Times story about the Dominick subpoena, requesting the motion be immediately withdrawn and asking what relevant information the Town President could have.Gonzales’ attorneys responded back via email and refused to withdraw the motion, the filing says, and “essentially said it was none of the attorneys’ business” because it was in relation to Dominick “personally,” and not about his role as town president.
Dominick’s attorneys say in the filing that the “only tangential element” Gonzales’ attorney could bring up was that Ruth Ortega, a resident of Berwyn, works for the Town of Cicero and was also being issued a subpoena in the case.
Dominick’s attorneys say his deposition is “not relevant, that Gonzales’ attorney should not be given further opportunity to establish relevant basis, that the subpoena’s primary purpose is harassment, and ultimately, that the subpoena should be quashed and barred as unduly burdensome, and to prevent ‘annoyance’ and ‘oppression.’”
Gonzales claims in the suit that Madigan put up two “sham” candidates with Hispanic names to try to split the Hispanic vote in the March 2016 primary. Madigan beat Gonzales 65.2 percent to 27.1 percent. The other two primary candidates received a combined 7.8 percent.
Peraica is also hoping to uncover whether Madigan used campaign funds under his control to alert voters to Gonzales’ criminal history, which had been expunged.
Gonzales’ attorneys are investigating connections between one of the candidates in question, and political operatives in the town of Cicero. Cicero spokesman Ray Hanania was initially a defendant in the case, but a judge dismissed him from the case.
The fight over whether Dominick should be issued a subpoena was uncovered in a June 14 court filing in which Gonzales’ attorneys claimed a process server, William Rivera, wound up being arrested by Cicero police and left shivering in a room with the air conditioning cranked up when he tried to find Dominick and Ortega to issue subpoenas.
Police said Rivera stole a package. Rivera acknowledged he picked up a package at a home to examine its address label to determine if it had been addressed to Dominick. But he said he “put the box where I found it and left the premises.”
After being stopped at 59th and Pershing Road in Stickney by the Cicero police — where one of the officers remarked that he was friends with Ortega — the officers told him his subpoenas were not “real” because they did not have a stamped impression from the Circuit Court of Cook County.
Once at the Cicero police station, Rivera said he was forced to take off a sweatshirt and left in a room where the air conditioning had been turned on high for hours.
Eventually, Rivera said the officers let him use the phone to call his “parents.” He said he instead called Peraica’s firm, which secured his release. But when a Cicero officer realized what Rivera had done, the officer allegedly told him he “should not have done that.”
Dominick’s spokesman dismissed the allegations of police mistreatment and false arrest, saying “this is typical Tony Peraica.”
The spokesman, Hanania, wrote in an email to the Sun-Times last week that Rivera was “harassing several Town employees,” including Dominick’s son. He also alleges Rivera went to the home of a Cicero employee and was seen by a neighbor walking away with a package on the front steps. When confronted, Rivera allegedly told a neighbor he wanted to deliver a package to Dominick.