A question of a Joliet ‘cabal’

Joliet inspector general and ex-state IG clash over ‘cabal’ report

Council Member Pat Mudron listens to Inspector General Sean Connolly speak on the conspiracy allegations against Joliet Mayor Bob O’DeKirk during the City Council Meeting at City Hall in Joliet on Monday, March 13th, 2023.

Joliet Inspector General Sean Connolly stood by his use of the word “cabal” when questioned by the City Council about his investigation calling for a reprimand against one council member and criminal charges against two former top police officials.

“I purposely used that word because that was what it was,” Connolly said Monday night. “It was a secret meeting of a clique for a political purpose, and that political purpose was to damage [Joliet] Mayor [Bob] O’Dekirk.”

Whether any higher authorities agree that it was a cabal may determine whether official misconduct charges are ever brought against former Joliet Police Chief Al Roechner and former Deputy Chief Mark Reid, as Connolly has recommended.

Inspector General Sean Connolly speaks on the conspiracy allegations against Joliet Mayor Bob O’DeKirk during the City Council Meeting at City Hall in Joliet on Monday, March 13th, 2023.

But the council Monday did not follow Connolly’s recommendation to reprimand and censure council member Pat Mudron.

Additionally, a former state inspector general hired by Mudron as his attorney has written his own review of Connolly’s report, saying that it lacks objectivity and is “riddled with factual inaccuracies.”

The inspector general report, dated March 1, involves the November 2020 filing of a police report by former council member Donald “Duck” Dickinson accusing O’Dekirk. The report was filed at a time that Dickinson said he was worried that cellphone photos of his genitals were being circulated.

Connolly’s report includes the police officials, Mudron and former council member Jim McFarland, who no longer was on the council at the time.

Mudron prepared for the Monday showdown in part by distributing the letter from his attorney to council members before the meeting.

Speaking to the council, Connolly commented on the letter, saying that he, too, had read it and dismissed it as the product of “a Chicago lawyer” who “spends the majority of his opinion tooting his own horn.”

The lawyer, Ricardo Meza, was executive inspector general for the state of Illinois from 2010 to 2015. His investigations included one that found more than 250 staff assistants at the Illinois Department of Transportation were hired because of personal connections to politicians or high-ranking IDOT officials.

Ricardo Meza, attorney for council Member Pat Mudron speaks to the council members during the City Council Meeting at City Hall in Joliet on Monday, March 13th, 2023.

Meza also served 10 years as an assistant U.S. attorney with the U.S. Attorney’s Office. He is now in private practice.

His letter devotes one paragraph to his credentials, but most of it examines Connolly’s report and professional standards for inspector generals.

Meza’s letter, distributed among council members, questioned Connolly’s report, starting with the use of the word “cabal,” which, he wrote, “reveals a clear lack of objectivity.”

He contends that the inspector general report does not support the allegation of a cabal and incorrectly states who was at a Nov. 1, 2020, meeting at Roechner’s house the day before the police report officially was filed.

Meza also said that although the inspector general investigation was supposed to be a look into Dickinson’s allegation of intimidation, there was no indication that O’Dekirk was ever questioned about a statement Dickinson considered a threat.

“In other words, the IG report is unclear as to whether Mayor O’Dekirk ever made the alleged ‘intimidation’ statement the IG was investigating,” Meza wrote. “And while the IG report does state that Mayor O’Dekirk said he never ‘intimidated Dickinson,’ it fails to note whether Mayor O’Dekirk was asked if he ever said to Mr. Dickinson, ‘And you, Dickinson, the truth is going to come out about you.’ ”

At the meeting Monday, council member Sherri Reardon told Connolly that she was present when O’Dekirk made the statement.

Whether or not the mayor said it, Connolly said, such a statement would not be a criminal act of intimidation.

“It’s a disagreement,” Connolly said. “We don’t know what it means, ‘the truth is going to come out about you.’ The truth about you could be you’re the best softball player in Joliet.”

Connolly also said Dickinson was the only one of the alleged cabal who agreed to be interviewed for his investigation.

What happens next is unclear.

Connolly said Monday that his investigation is ongoing, and he had not sent his report to the Illinois Attorney General’s Office, which he recommends investigate Roechner and Reid. A spokesperson for the attorney general’s office this week would not comment on whether they had received the report or are looking into it.

The next step, Connolly told the council, would be to send the report to the state executive inspector general.

Meza, who was at the meeting, spoke only once and briefly, telling the council that the state inspector general office has no jurisdiction in Joliet.

“You could refer it to them,” he said, “but they wouldn’t do anything about it.”