Dupage Township Trustee Alyssia Benford
A government watchdog group is working on getting to the bottom of why two criminal complaints were filed against DuPage Township Trustee Alyssia Benford in January, complaints that the Will County State’s Attorney has determined to be without merit.
In a communication obtained by the Edgar County Watchdogs (ECW) this week, a detective with the Bolingbrook Police Department wrote that an assistant State’s Attorney told him nothing supports the allegations of criminality in the complaints. The detective also wrote that the State’s Attorney’s office has “deemed a no complaint status for both.”
(Benford told the Will County Gazette that she learned from a Facebook post that the complaints consisted of destroying township documents and identify theft.)
ECW published the detective’s communication on its website Illinois Leaks in an update on developments in the allegations. ECW’s Kirk Allen wrote in the article that he has filed Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests with both the Bolingbrook Police Department and the office of the Will County State’s Attorney.
“We are confident that the information will once again shed light on the witch hunt that began when a single trustee had the courage to push back and expose malfeasance and illegal spending at the Township,” Allen wrote.
In April 2018, Benford, a certified public accountant, became suspicious of financial transactions by former township Supervisor William Mayer, transactions made without board approval.
“During my ongoing investigation as a trustee, several other items came to my attention regarding financial actions taken by the former,” Benford wrote in a statement she released this week when she became aware that the complaints against her were deemed to be meritless. “In October 2019, the township’s legal counsel issued an eight-page memo confirming actions taken by the former supervisor that were not in compliance with the law.”
Under pressure from Benford and ECW, Mayer resigned in January.
Benford told the Will County Gazette that the charges were filed “to keep her quiet,” and dissuade her from looking any deeper into Mayer’s questionable financial transactions.
At least one of the complaints against Benford was filed by Trustee Maripat Oliver, the watchdogs said. They are looking into who was behind the other as part of their investigation.
There were also public allegations of wrongdoing by Benford from Mayer and his wife, but ECW said they never presented evidence to back up the allegations.
Benford said that Oliver and she were allies in the early stages of the investigation into Mayer’s unauthorized spending but later had a falling out over what Benford believed to be resistance by some on the board to fund a local youth football team, the Bolingbrook Buccaneers, predominately made up African American coaches and players.
“Trustee Oliver has told me in the past that people will refer to me as a ‘coon’ and an Uncle Tom if I ran for another office as a member of the Republican Party," Benford said in her statement. "Trustee Oliver also serves on the Children and Family Services Review Board for the State of Illinois. It concerns me that someone with her limited views of race relations would be serving as an elected official or as a governor appointee to a board that protects minors.”
Oliver did not respond to a request for comment.