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Suburban Chicago mayor accused of misusing public funds, improperly running charity

Suburban Chicago mayor accused of misusing public funds, improperly running charity
Suburban Chicago mayor accused of misusing public funds, improperly running charity 02:44

DOLTON, Ill. (CBS) – Village trustees in south suburban Dolton called for an outside investigation into allegations Mayor Tiffany Henyard has been misusing public funds while the village is millions of dollars in debt.

The accusation comes at the same time the Illinois Attorney General's Office told Henyard's charity multiple times in recent months to stop improperly soliciting donations because it had not registered with the state as required by law.

Henyard was elected to be Dolton's mayor in 2021 as the first woman mayor in the village's 103-year history.

Multiple sources in Dolton told CBS 2 they've already been interviewed by the FBI and have been in touch with the Cook County State's Attorney's Office concerning the mayor's spending, including lavish personal spending, reportedly on the taxpayer's dime.

"We are in dire need of transparency," said Dolton Village Trustee Brittney Norwood.

Norwood was one of four trustees, including Kiana Belcher, Tammy Brown, and Jason House, who held a special meeting on Thursday to pass a resolution calling for an outside investigation into Henyard. She said they had to hold the meeting at Dolton Park because they were locked out of Village Hall. Even their mailboxes are located outside of the building. 

Norwood said they have some proof Henyard is misusing village funds and adding to Dolton's multi-million dollar deficit. She said the board has repeatedly asked for recent financial documents, but they've been denied.

"The last time I received the bank statement was in September of last year, and we were $7 million in debt at that time," Norwood said. "So at this current moment, we're saying, 'Hey, where are the bank statements? So we can know where we are.'"

The trustees said they want to see all of the documentation surrounding Henyard's spending, including self-promotion, taxpayer-funded billboards, and other advertisements. They also questioned spending on lavish trips and extravagant dinners.

"Fine dining and all of this travel and we're saying, 'Hey why are we going to these places? What's happening here?'" Norwood said.

Mayor's charity not registered with AG's office

On Wednesday, the AG's office sent a cease and desist letter to the Tiffany Henyard Cares Foundation warning that they had already sent "several letters" to the charity warning they were not registered with the state. The AG's office said the charity needed to send in the legally required documents before further soliciting or receiving donations.

Despite the repeated warnings, the AG's office said, "to date, however, the Foundation has not responded and we have not been advised why there has been a delay."

The AG's office then listed the several documents the charity needed to submit to the state, including copies of its financial reports and a $15 registration fee.

But that letter appeared to be just the latest attempt to contact the mayor's charity, warning it about collecting donations without registering.

The state had previously sent the charity letters dated Dec. 13, 2023, and Jan. 17, 2024, with similar warnings about the needed documentation it had not submitted.

In statement responding to the accusations, the village administrator said, "This is just another example of a few trustees in the Village of Dolton spreading lies and false allegations. These are the same trustees that cut the public safety budget by [$3.8 million], eliminated the bond for garbage removal and have charged over [$5 million] in frivolous lawsuits that the Dolton taxpayers are stuck with the tab. The residents deserve better than this circus."

Henyard also serves as the supervisor of Thornton Township.

The next Dolton Village Board meeting is scheduled for March 4. Henyard is expected to attend.

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