Hearing requested on Cellini/state business
BY DAVE MCKINNEY AND TIM NOVAK Sun-Times Staff Reporters January 4, 2012 12:14AM
William Cellini, the longtime, behind-the-scenes power broker in Illinois government, listens to his lawyer, Dan Webb, react to a guilty verdict at Dirksen Federal Building, Tuesday, November 1, 2011. | Jean Lachat~Sun-Times
Updated: February 5, 2012 8:16AM
SPRINGFIELD — A suburban lawmaker asked Gov. Pat Quinn’s budget chief Tuesday for a hearing on millions of dollars worth of state leases and management agreements tied to felon William Cellini and his family.
State Sen. Susan Garrett (D-Lake Forest) cited a Chicago Sun-Times report that demonstrated a “lack of disclosure” in state contracts involving two Cellini ventures, New Frontier and Pacific Management Company.
“It is critical that we untangle the relationships between William Cellini, the Cellini family and the state of Illinois, given the fact that Cellini has been convicted of felony charges and faces a five-year ban on getting any state contracts,” Garrett wrote Quinn budget chief David Vaught, who chairs the state Procurement Policy Board.
The Sun-Times reported Tuesday that New Frontier and Pacific Management have agreements with private landlords to manage 18 buildings now occupied by state agencies that include the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Human Services and the Department of Transportation.
Taxpayers paid more than $14.4 million in rent for those buildings, but the state does not know what percentage of that amount went to the firms.
State law prohibits Cellini, as a felon, from contracting with the state from now until five years after he completes his sentence. He was convicted in November on two of four federal corruption counts.
Cellini is listed as the president of New Frontier but has no ownership stake in Pacific. His daughter, Claudia Cellini, is listed in state records as Pacific Management’s senior vice president. Pacific Management’s corporate secretary, Vincent Forgione, and its treasurer, Susan Weber, report to Cellini at some of his companies, including New Frontier Management Corp.
Vaught could not be reached to respond to Garrett’s call.
In her Tuesday letter to Vaught, Garrett said it is “in the public’s best interest” to know how much the two Cellini firms are paid by landlords to manage state buildings and “how much of that money is going to companies that are connected, either directly or indirectly, with a felon convicted of corruption.”
Garrett wants to know whether the management rates charged state landlords by Pacific and New Frontier — rates the state does not now know — are “consistent with average property management rates charged by other property management companies” and whether those services ever have been put out to bid by state landlords.
The Sun-Times reported that taxpayers have spent $261 million on lease payments dating back to 1981 on buildings that once were owned by Cellini’s companies that are still managed by New Frontier or by Pacific.
Garrett also asked Vaught to have the Procurement Policy Board assess whether those rent payments have been “consistent with fair market rates for similar real property space, especially in comparison to non-governmental, privately leased buildings.”
A Cellini spokesman, Patrick Somers, did not respond to an e-mail inquiry seeking comment on Garrett’s request for a hearing or her questions.