MARION — The latest series of volleys in the ongoing dispute between the City of Marion and the owners of the Illinois Star Centre Mall were fired Aug. 23 by lawyers for the mall’s owners, Illinois Star Centre LLC.
Two separate documents recorded in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court of the Southern District of Illinois seek to disqualify the city’s legal representation, and addresses the city’s Aug. 9 response to the Adversarial Complaint lodged July 10 by lawyers for the Illinois Star Centre LLC.
The first document comes in the form of a motion seeking to disqualify Marion's city attorney, Stephen R. Green, from representing the city in its defense against accusations of fraud leveled by at the city by Illinois Star Centre LLC.
The motion alleges a conflict of interest exists between Green and Illinois Star Centre LLC.
Court documents state that Green currently represents, and has represented in the past, Illinois Star Centre LLC, “on a number of legal matters that were substantially related to the current controversy.”
If this allegation is true, the documents say, it presumes that the client, Illinois Star Centre LLC, disclosed confidential information to the attorney, Green, during prior representation.
According to the motion for disqualification, this could potentially influence proceedings in the current adversarial complaint leveled against the City of Marion.
Additionally, the motion alleges irregularities in conduct by Green as a result of this conflict of interest.
According to court documents, relief sought by the motion to dismiss appears to be the request that “(The) Courts should conduct the three-part inquiry to determine if a conflict exists.”
Green said Monday that those allegations are totally false, and that he would soon be filing an affidavit in response.
A hearing for the motion to dismiss is scheduled for Sept. 19 in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in East St. Louis.
The second document, a memorandum filed Aug. 23, comes in opposition to the City of Marion’s motion to dismiss the Star Centre LLC’s adversarial complaint, which sought an equitable accounting from the city as it related to the financing of the Illinois Star Centre Mall and the surrounding area in Marion.
In legal documents filed Aug. 9 by Green, the city made a motion to dismiss the adversarial complaint based on allegations that complaints made by Illinois Star Centre Mall LLC were insufficient and did not comply with federal rules of civil procedure.
Additionally, in the Aug. 9 motion to dismiss, the city said “requests by Illinois Star Centre Mall LLC for an accounting of the SSA#2 bonds and associated accounts, ordinances, and materials for the creation thereof,” should not be granted because Illinois Star Centre Mall LLC signed a waiver with the city.
The Aug. 23 opposition memorandum filed by lawyers for the mall owners argues that an adversarial complaint does not require allegations of fraud, nor does the waiver agreement prohibit Illinois Star Centre Mall LLC from making that complaint.
In the Aug 9. motion to dismiss, Green also argued for the city that Illinois Star Centre Mall LLC did not make a single Freedom of Information Act request to the city and had not stated that a FOIA request would be insufficient.
In the memorandum, court documents state that Illinois Star Centre Mall LLC has made requests of the city for documentation, but that the city has refused to comply.
The memorandum also alleges that documents that could be obtained by Illinois Star Centre Mall LLC do indicate fraud.
“(Illinois Star Centre Mall LLC) believes that the City has improperly and fraudulently used funds for purposes not authorized by Illinois’ Special Service Area Tax Law and for paying for public services and improvements outside of the geographical boundaries of the taxing districts established by the City,” the motion states.
Additionally, the memorandum states that Illinois Star Centre Mall LLC also believes that all debts owed by the mall owners related to bonds issued have been paid, and that the city owes the mall owners a refund for overpayments.
Historic challenges facing the Illinois Star Centre Mall owners include a bankruptcy petition filed May 4 by Illinois Star Centre LLC, a failed sealed-bid auction in November 2017, in which the buyer backed out of purchasing the property during the due-diligence period, and the 2015 conviction of some of the owners, or their relatives, for a bid-rigging scheme in Madison County.