Search Warrant Shows Feds Focused on Lyons Mayor, Developer Who Built His House
When federal agents came to the village hall in Lyons last month, they wanted to search Mayor Chris Getty’s office — and sought records relating to “Getty’s home security system,” according to documents released late Tuesday.
The agents left the southwest suburb after the raid on Sept. 26 with a slew of information, including records about the quarry next to the village hall, which is owned by Reliable Materials.
That company’s owner is Michael Vondra, a wealthy businessman and longtime player in Illinois politics whose own offices in Bartlett got raided two days before agents went to Lyons and the village hall in nearby McCook.
The federal search warrant used at the Lyons village hall also showed the FBI’s interest in the Lyons Township Democratic Organization. The group’s leader is Steve Landek, who’s also the mayor of Bridgeview and a state senator. He did not return calls seeking comment.
Last week, Lyons officials refused to release a copy of the search warrant and other documents related to the raid, saying federal authorities told them not to do so.
But the village did an about-face and released the records from the search without warning late Tuesday evening — four days after WBEZ and the Better Government Association sued Lyons, alleging officials there violated the state’s open records law by hiding the documents from the raid.
The newly released records also show the FBI requested documents related to Skyway Homes and its sister company, M & F Masonry, of Brookfield. Both are run by Moises Gonzalez, a Getty political supporter who built the mayor’s home under questionable circumstances.
The BGA and Fox 32 earlier this year detailed how the village in 2013 demolished a run-down house in Lyons, purchased the lot in 2014 for almost $41,000 and then sold it to Skyway in 2015 at a nearly $13,500 loss. Skyway was the sole bidder on the property. The company then built a new house on the site and sold it to Getty for slightly more than $291,000 without listing it on the market, where it could have drawn competing offers.
Over the past five years, Skyway and M & F Masonry have built four additional homes on vacant land purchased from Lyons. As with Getty’s home, the developers were the only bidders for those properties and the village sold some of them at a loss to taxpayers.
The feds also seized documents pertaining to “the Drake Oak Brook Resort,” according to the newly released records from the raid. Getty is involved in the hotel, according to state records, and the mayor has held political fundraising events there.
William Haworth, who had worked for Reliable Materials, has also been listed as a “manager” in that hotel venture and was named in the search warrant executed at the Lyons village hall.
Many other people and companies referenced in the search warrant in Lyons had already appeared in similar documents stemming from the raids in McCook and another search of the Springfield offices of powerful Democratic state Sen. Martin Sandoval.
In Lyons, much as in the Sandoval and McCook raids, the feds sought records relating to northwest suburban businessman Rick Heidner and his Hoffman Estates-based Gold Rush Gaming, which is one of the largest video gambling operators in Illinois.
And in Lyons, agents were able to seize a variety of documents about red-light cameras and SafeSpeed, a Chicago-based company that operates the lucrative devices in many suburban communities.
Dan Mihalopoulos is an investigative reporter on WBEZ’s Government & Politics Team.