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Workers: They Were Forced To Landscape Township Supervisor's Property

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Personal landscaping done on the taxpayer's dime.

That's one of the allegations against the Joliet Township supervisor made by employees who said they were forced to do the work.

CBS 2 Investigator Megan Hickey digs into who owns the property.

Joliet Township Road District crews said they were ordered to work on the property many times over the years. Even rebuilding a rock wall.

The only problem it's not owned by the township.

It's owned by the township supervisor.

A parking lot expansion, hundreds of pounds worth of heavy lifting and extensive cleanup. Three Joliet Township Road District employees submitted signed affidavits that they did the work, on the clock, with township-owned equipment, over a period of about eight years.

And property records show it's owned by Township Supervisor Daniel Vera.

Surprisingly enough, it was a nonprofit watchdog group about 175 miles away in Edgar County that helped the road workers come forward.

"These people were afraid of losing their jobs," said Kirk Allen of Edgar County Watchdogs.

Kirk Allen and John Kraft spoke about how the employees felt like they didn't have a choice.

"They had been convinced by the supervisors actions, that he was the CEO of the township and he would fire them," said Allen.

The road district put the allegations against the township and Vera in writing on Wednesday. The legal complaint filed Wednesday afternoon includes additional allegations involving the misuse of road district funds.

When asked about curious accounting issues at Tuesday night's township meeting Vera said nothing.

So the CBS 2 Investigators tried to track him down. He was reached by phone and agreed to an interview to explain his side of the story.

But he never showed up.

Behind a locked door and 45 minutes later, CBS 2 was told he was "unavailable."

In a one sentence email from Vera was equally helpful, saying "I'm unavailable to meet with you."

After canceling the interview with CBS 2, Vera did not respond to follow-up requests for any comment on the allegations made in the complaint.

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