Thursday, January 22, 2015
Court orders Ochoa to pay legal fees in politically motivated lawsuit
A Cook County Circuit Court Judge today (Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015) ordered former Cicero mayoral candidate Juan Ochoa to reimburse Cicero and Town President Larry Dominick more than $30,000 spent to refute Ochoa’s claims that he was harassed in the 2013 election.
Ochoa filed the politically motivated lawsuit weeks prior to the Feb. 26, 2013 mayoral contest at a press conference in what observers said was clearly intended as a political move to generate publicity and slander Dominick.
Despite the false accusations, Dominick easily defeated Ochoa in a landslide election receiving more than 60 percent of the votes cast in the three-way contest that also included Joseph Pontarelli, an ally of disgraced former Cicero Mayor Betty Loren-Maltese.
Describing Ochoa’s accusations as “so devoid of factual allegations,” Cook County Circuit Court Presiding Judge Patrick J. Sherlock ordered Ochoa to pay $17,239.68 in legal fees to the Town of Cicero and its officials, and $12,946 in legal fees to attorneys representing the Cicero Voters Alliance (CVA).
“I am happy that this purely political move to grab pre-election publicity back in 2012 has been exposed for the fraud that it is,” said President Dominick.
“The only people who were harassing voters were the street gang members identified in the Chicago Crime Commission Street Gang Handbook who worked on Ochoa’s campaign. The vast majority of voters saw through Ochoa’s phony campaign lies. And the voters and public stood by my administration’s proven record of delivering new jobs, new businesses, improving safety, fighting street gangs, and increasing services for everyone including Senior Citizens, youth and families.”
Ochoa’s lawsuit was filed on Dec. 11, 2012 by political activist and lawyer Frank Avila Jr., the son of controversial Water Reclamation District Trustee Frank Avila, Sr. The Ochoa/Avila lawsuit had been dismissed twice by the courts, first on Dec. 5, 2013 and again on July 21, 2014.
The elected officials named in the lawsuit included Dominick and his slate including Supervisor Joe Virruso, Assessor Emilio Cundari, Clerk Maria Punzo-Arias, Collector Fran Reitz, and Trustees Lorraine Walsh and Larry Banks.
(Court Document NO. 12 L 13824; Honorable Patrick J. Sherlock)