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People v. Savaiano

OPINION FILED DECEMBER 3, 1976.

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, APPELLEE,

v.

PAT SAVAIANO, APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Appellate Court for the Second District; heard in that court on appeal from the Circuit Court of Du Page County; the Hon. Carl A. Swanson, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE KLUCZYNSKI DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Rehearing denied January 28, 1977.

Defendant-appellant, Pat Savaiano, was found guilty of violating the Corrupt Practices Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1971, ch. 102, pars. 3 and 4). The circuit court of Du Page County entered judgment on a jury verdict and sentenced appellant to two years' probation and imposed a fine of $1,000. The first 90 days of appellant's sentence was to be spent incarcerated in the county jail. The appellate court affirmed the conviction, holding that appellant's conduct "was within the spirit and letter of the prohibitory language in section 3" (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1971, ch. 102, par. 3). (People v. Savaiano, 31 Ill. App.3d 1049, 1053.) The Statute provides, in part:

"Sec. 3. No person holding any office, either by election or appointment under the laws or constitution of this state, may be in any manner interested, either directly or indirectly, in his own name or in the name of any other person, association, trust or corporation, in any contract or the performance of any work in the making or letting of which such officer may be called upon to act or vote. * * *

Sec. 3.1. * * *

Sec. 4. Any alderman, member of a board of trustees, supervisor or county commissioner, or other person holding any office, either by election or appointment under the laws or constitution of this state, who violates any provision of the preceding sections, is guilty of a misdemeanor, and may be punished by confinement in the penitentiary for not less than one year nor more than five years, or fined not less than $200 nor more than $1,000, or both; and in addition thereto, any office or official position held by any person so convicted shall become vacant, and shall be so declared as part of the judgment of court; * * *."

We granted leave to appeal in which the appellant contends that the existence of a complete contract is an indispensable element of the offense; that section 12 of article IV of the 1970 Constitution of Illinois, regarding legislative immunity, requires that a contract be an indispensable element; that the indictment is void for failing to allege the existence of a contract; and that the jury instructions as to the nature and elements of the crime were improper.

The following facts were adduced at trial from testimony of witnesses and exhibits admitted into evidence:

Appellant, Savaiano, was a member of the Du Page County Board from April 1965 to December 1974. As a member of the county board, appellant was also a member of the Board of Commissioners of the Forest Preserve District of Du Page County and chairman of its finance committee.

In 1965 the Forest Preserve District engaged the Northeastern Illinois Planning Commission to prepare a study of the land located in Du Page County. The plan identified 10,000 acres of open land and suggested that the Forest Preserve District acquire these lands. Revisions of the plan were made in 1966, and the entire plan was released to the board members and the press for publication. This plan, referred to as the "master plan," was adopted by the Board of Commissioners of the Forest Preserve District on July 16, 1968. Appellant was one of the board members who voted in favor of adopting the plan. It was to be executed in four phases, with each phase involving the acquisition of land according to a specific priority. Phase one entailed the acquisition of land listed in the highest priority category of the "master plan," while phase four provided for the lowest priority. Having completed the first two phases, the Board of Commissioners adopted phase three of the plan in September 1971. The duties of the Finance Committee consisted of recommending to the Board of Commissioners what land should be purchased and what price should be paid.

On December 15, 1969, John Demling, Harry Kuhn, Dominic Accorsi, and appellant, through his agent, John Bowman, purchased 20 acres of land at $4,000 an acre which were earmarked for acquisition under phase three of the plan. Prior to sale the land was held in a land trust known as West Suburban Bank Trust No. 1. The sale was completed by the former beneficiaries assigning their interest to Savaiano's nominee and the three individuals identified above. The nominee was selected because appellant believed that since he was in politics his ownership of the realty would be detrimental to the development of the land. Appellant and his associates each paid $5,000 cash and jointly assigned their interest in trust No. 1 as collateral security for a $60,000 loan.

On April 27, 1971, appellant, through his nominee, entered into a trust agreement, together with Demling, Kuhn and Accorsi, in which they acquired the beneficial interest in a land trust known as West Suburban Bank Trust No. 112. The corpus of this trust contained 40 acres of land also earmarked to be acquired under phase three of the plan. The consideration paid for this interest was $4,500 an acre. Appellant paid $10,000 cash and, through his nominee, Bowman, joined in an assignment with his associates of their interest in trust No. 112 to the bank as security for the remaining amount owed. Both assignments were later converted to individual short-term promissory notes with the individual beneficial interests acting as collateral security in anticipation of appellant's and Demling's sale of their interest. Savaiano told Bowman in the summer of 1972 that he wanted to sell his interest in the trusts because the Forest Preserve District was acquiring the property and he did not want any problems concerning his ownership and his public office. Demling, however, testified that Savaiano did not state any reason for selling his interest. On December 1, 1972, appellant, through his nominee, and Demling disposed of their interests to Don Neuses, a real estate broker and appraiser, for $6,500 an acre. Savaiano received a 90-day note for $45,341.51 and was relieved of his two loans totaling more than $50,000, which were assumed by Neuses.

During the same period of time in which the above events transpired, the following occurred in regard to actions before the Finance Committee and the Board of Commissioners of the Forest Preserve District. Savaiano requested the director of the Forest Preserve District, Howard C. Johnson, and Carlton Nadelhoffer, attorney for the District, to attend a meeting with Demling and Savaiano to discuss the tax advantages of giving the land to the District. This meeting took place on July 24, 1970, prior to the adoption of phase three of the plan.

In September 1971, when phase three was adopted, the real estate manager for the Forest Preserve District was authorized by the Finance Committee to contact owners of the property listed under that plan. In written correspondence dated April 25, 1972, he advised the trustee of trusts Nos. 1 and 112 that the Forest Preserve District was interested in purchasing the 60 acres of land contained in the trusts. One month later, Demling, acting as agent for himself and his associates, offered to sell their interests in trusts Nos. 1 and 112 and another 20-acre parcel owned by Demling, Kuhn and Accorsi, for $10,000 an acre. Demling and Accorsi then appeared at a meeting of the Finance Committee to discuss the acquisition of their property by the Forest Preserve ...


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