Ald. Munoz accused of raiding Progressive Caucus fund for personal use

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Outgoing Ald. Ricardo Munoz (22nd) returned to City Hall on Friday for the first time since his wife accused him of domestic violence, but refused to talk about the New Year’s Eve incident. (Photo by Fran Spielman).

A letter outlining a series of unauthorized expenses made by Ricardo Munoz — including travel, restaurants and money spent at a suburban lingerie and sex-toy shop — using funds from the City Council’s Progressive Reform Caucus was hand delivered to the Cook County state’s attorney’s office Wednesday.

“I think using the funds the way he did, it’s possible there was criminal wrongdoing there,” said Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd), who replaced Munoz as head of the caucus in January, explaining the decision to inform State’s Attorney Kim Foxx.

Munoz (22nd) spent a total of $36,849 on “unauthorized expenditures” drawn from an account held by the caucus’ political action committee, said attorney Ed Mullen, who represents the caucus.

Reached via text, Munoz said, “I’m paying it back.”

The accusation of rogue spending was laid out in amended expense reports along with a letter from Mullen that were filed Monday with the Illinois State Board of Elections.

On Wednesday, Mullen had a staff member hand deliver a letter to Foxx’s office.

The state’s attorney’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

The letter to the state Election Board was first reported by Politico Illinois.

Munoz, who announced in July he would not seek reelection, had sole control of the caucus account, Mullen explained in the letter to the state board.

Other caucus members “were not authorized users of the account and did not otherwise have access to the bank account or records,” the letter stated.

After Waguespack took over the caucus, members repeatedly reached out to Munoz in an effort to gain access to the account and finally obtained access to it March 19.

A review of the fund revealed the expenditures. Munoz has paid back $24,900 thus far, Mullen said.

“It was a very big surprise,” Waguespack said. “Before this, we never had any issues. I’m really disappointed and angered at what he did.”

The last unauthorized expenditure, dated February 12, was for $160.48 to a business in West Dundee listed as “Lane 19.”

The business is actually Lover’s Lane, a lingerie and sex-toy shop. A Lover’s Lane employee reached Wednesday said the business uses the ambiguous name on receipts for purposes of discretion.

Munoz also gave himself money on eight different occasions totaling $13,160 between October and December of last year, according to the list of unauthorized expenditures.

There were also two unauthorized money transfers in October and December to Citizens for Munoz totaling $2,800.

Two separate expenditures to La Scarola Italian Restaurant, 721 W. Grand, from Sept. 7, 2017, for $209.31 and $194.87 are also on the list.

There’s also a bill for $1,842.50 from the Little Village eatery Nuevo Leon, 3657 W. 26th St., from June 25, 2018.

The largest unauthorized expenditure was $14,800 spent at Alta Vista Graphics, 3435 N. Kimball, on May 8, 2018.

Munoz is in the midst of a divorce from his wife, Betty Torres Munoz. He also faces a misdemeanor domestic violence charge stemming from an alleged New Year’s Eve altercation with Torres Munoz.

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