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Local News

Joliet may send inspector general to investigate Rialto

JOLIET – The city may send its new inspector general to the Rialto Square Theater to investigate who knew what about unpaid payroll taxes that mounted to more than $120,000.

Joliet in January hired Chris Regis, then a prosecutor in the Will County State’s Attorney’s Office, to the newly created position of inspector general to investigate waste and corruption in city government.

Sending him to the Rialto would amount to the city’s inspector general, who can subpoena witnesses, investigating another unit of government.

But Mayor Bob O’Dekirk said he believed the inspector general has authority to look at the Rialto situation.

While the Will County Metropolitan Exposition and Auditorium Authority, which oversees the Rialto, is another unit of government, three of its four board members are appointed by the mayor. Also the city provides $600,000 of annual funding for the Rialto.

Among questions O’Dekirk said he would like answered is who knew what and when about the Rialto’s unpaid payroll taxes.

O’Dekirk pointed to a December city budget meeting when Rialto General Manager Randy Green faced a series of questions from Councilman Larry Hug about the theater’s operations as the council considered annual Rialto funding.

“Certainly, when Mr. Green appeared before this council and had a heated discussion with Mr. Hug, he knew the theater had not paid taxes in November and December,” O’Dekirk said at the City Council meeting on Monday.

Councilman Jim McFarland noted that the council had received a memo last week indicating that Dan Vera, chairman of the Will County Metropolitan Exposition and Auditorium Authority, knew in mid-December that payroll taxes had not been paid.

City Manager Jim Hock, who wrote the memo, said Vera in mid-December directed Green to pay the taxes. When Vera tried later to confirm taxes were paid, Hock said, “Mr. Green deflected those questions and never gave him a straight answer.”

In his memo, Hock wrote that when Green was on vacation in early March, Vera went to Rialto finance officer Dale Evans and was told the taxes had not been paid since November.

Vera said at the Rialto board meeting on Monday he learned in mid-February that the taxes had not been paid.

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