Former Plainfield Township administrator betrayed trust, supervisor says
Plainfield Township's administrator, who resigned earlier this week after an Illinois-based political activist group's allegations of misconduct, violated the trust she once enjoyed, a township official said.
"This is a complete betrayal the trust put in Andi French by the board," Plainfield Township Supervisor Tony Fremarek told the Will County Gazette. "The evidence is clear with respect to the allegations."
Fremarek, first elected to Plainfield Township board in April 2009, was elected township supervisor 2013. His term as supervisor is set to expire in May 2021.
French resigned her post as longtime township administrator Monday following misconduct allegations that included storing a boat belonging to her husband and personal watercraft in a township-owned garage, according to a local news report.
French likely resigned rather than be fired, Fremarek said.
"Given the nature of the allegations, and the fact that is violates the Plainfield Township policy manual, it is very likely that Mrs. French would have been terminated by the board," he said.
French also left the board little choice, Fremarek said.
"In order to properly have the ability to enforce the policies of the township, it was 100 percent the correct course of action," he said.
French, who submitted her resignation during a special Plainfield Township Board of Trustees meeting Nov. 26, had been employed by Plainfield Township since 1997. Her resignation was effective immediately.
During the same special meeting, Plainfield Township Board replaced French with now former township Clerk Chuck Willard.
French also offered to pay the township $1,300 in back rent for the boat and personal watercraft storage.
French was among the highest paid employees in the township. Last year, her salary was reported at more than $55,000 a year but her current salary is reported to be about $82,500. Willard's salary will be about $70,000 and he will not be taking the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund as French had.
French's resignation followed publication by Edgar County Watchdogs of photos of the boat, including its license plate. The activist group also published information about the boat's registration in the name of French's husband, Gene French. The boat and personal watercraft reportedly had been stored free of charge in a garage behind the Plainfield Township Community Center on Des Plaines Street.
Township officials reportedly are still investigating the allegations of misconduct against French. Fremarek said it also is proving an important learning experience.
"The Plainfield Township board took this matter very seriously once we became aware of the allegations," he said. "Mrs. French was placed on administrative leave and we began to conduct our own internal investigation. We are going to use this as an opportunity to tighten internal controls and policies to ensure nothing like this happens in the future."