Logli: insurance broker investigation won’t be released

Winnebago County State’s Attorney Paul Logli said Sept. 30 the findings of his investigation of the county’s former insurance broker will not be revealed any time soon. He cited an ongoing and overlapping defamation lawsuit as the reason the findings will not be made public, unless those facts are revealed during the lawsuit.

Logli’s decision to not reveal the findings is a change of course from what he said about one month ago. During an interview Aug. 24, Logli said the findings may be presented at the Sept. 7 meeting of the Winnebago County Board’s Executive Committee.

He added that another reason for the delay could also be attributed to “undeveloped” parts of the law, which are applicable to insurance brokers. Logli implied ambiguous portions of the law make it difficult to determine whether the law was violated.

The findings were originally expected to be revealed sometime in July, according to First Deputy State’s Attorney Chuck Prorok (see June 16 article “Insurance investigation nears conclusion”).

Logli tapped Prorok in February to lead the investigation of the former county’s former insurance broker Bruce Hagshenas, president of Benefit Planning Services (BPS) Inc.

Prorok was investigating alleged undisclosed fees associated with insurance the county purchased from Benefit Planning. The investigation was controversial because Hagshenas contributed $1,000 in 2000 to Prorok’s failed campaign for judge in the 17th Judicial Circuit.

Logli tapped Prorok for the investigation despite calls by some County Board members for Prorok to recuse himself to avoid even an appearance of a conflict of interest.

Hagshenas is a plaintiff in a defamation lawsuit filed March 17 concerning alleged comments County Board member Patti Thayer (R-9) made at an Executive Committee meeting Oct. 20, 2003, about Hagshenas.

He also alleged “On or about Jan. 10, 2004, defendant, Patti Thayer, attended a private meeting with the plaintiff, Bruce Hagshenas, …[County Board member] Randy Olson [R-1] and [County Board Chairman] Scott Christiansen. Topics of conversation at the meeting included group health insurance brokered by BPS to Winnebago County.”

Hagshenas alleged the Jan. 10 meeting violated the Illinois Open Meetings Act, which requires government entities to issue notices prior to meeting. Christiansen was not County Board chairman at that time.

He also alleged that Thayer “published defamatory statements” that “BPS received commission payments that were illegal.” The county’s new insurance broker, Rockford Consulting and Brokerage Inc., is named as a respondent in discovery motions.

Rockford Consulting is a family-run business whose president is Casey Brauns. His son, Ryan Brauns, is active in area politics and also works for Rockford Consulting and Brokerage.

In addition to being the county’s insurance broker, Benefit Planning was also broker for the Rockford School District, Harlem School District and Rockford Park District. Benefit Planning’s contract with the Harlem schools expires in 2005.

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