Dolton Village Hall hit with federal subpoenas amid ongoing probe into Mayor Tiffany Henyard

Federal agents on Friday delivered multiple grand jury subpoenas to Village Hall in Dolton seeking records pursuant to the ongoing corruption investigation involving embattled Mayor Tiffany Henyard, several sources confirmed to the Tribune.

The subpoenas, which two sources said do not name Henyard, come just days after Dolton chief administrator Keith Freeman, a close ally of Henyard, was charged with bankruptcy fraud in U.S. District Court as part of a related investigation.

A spokesperson for the FBI confirmed in a written statement that agents were “conducting court-authorized law enforcement activity” in Dolton on Friday, but declined to comment on the nature of any investigation pursuant to Department of Justice policy.

One of the sources said the investigation into Henyard is still in its early stages, and no charges are imminent.

The visit by authorities did not appear to be a full-scale raid at Village Hall, and it was not clear whether agents left the building with any records or other documents.

Four trustees who are at odds with Henyard have hired former Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot to act as a special investigator to investigate Henyard, including alleged reckless spending by the mayor that trustees say is driving Dolton into a multimillion-dollar deficit.

They also want Lightfoot, who is being paid $400 an hour, to look into a village-financed trip to Las Vegas, purportedly made to bring commercial business to the village that included Henyard, as well as other village officials and employees.

Separately, Freeman, a top aide to Henyard in the village and at Thornton Township, where she is supervisor, was charged in a federal indictment with bankruptcy fraud.

Freeman is alleged to have tried to shield assets from creditors and even denied working for the village during a meeting with creditors in his case, according to the complaint.

Also, a Dolton village employee recently named Henyard, the village, Thornton Township and a village official in a federal lawsuit that accuses the village official of performing non-consensual sex with the employee after she had “blacked out” during the trip last May to Las Vegas led by the mayor.

The suit states the employee was with the village official after dinner and began to feel “disoriented” and “blacked out” and didn’t remember the events of the night until waking up in the official’s bed. A second plaintiff in the suit, identified as a police officer and member of Henyard’s security detail, alleges in the suit the official in a video call that evening showed the employee “partially undressed” in the official’s hotel bed.

The official “then moved the camera to various private areas of (the employee’s) body displaying them on screen,” according to the lawsuit, “and at times moving or removing articles of clothing as he transmitted the images.”

The security officer alleges the official later said the sex he had with the employee was “unprotected.” The officer shared that information with the employee, who later included that information while recounting the events of the night to Henyard, according to the lawsuit.

But, according to the lawsuit, the employee was fired shortly after bringing the accusation against the official to Henyard. And the security guard alleged “within days” of telling Henyard about his interactions with the trustee, he was removed from his role in the mayor’s security detail and “demoted to patrol duty.”

Lightfoot was hired at a special Village Board meeting called April 8 by trustees Kiana Belcher, Tammie Brown, Jason House and Brittney Norwood, who have accused Henyard of misspending village funds and keeping trustees in the dark about the true condition of Dolton finances.

An attorney, Lightfoot does not work for a law enforcement agency and would not have any authority to subpoena village records. She said at that meeting she urged “the full cooperation of the mayor,” her staff and others in her probe.

Lightfoot acknowledged that she would not be welcomed with open arms by Henyard and her administration.

“I’m expecting there will be some roadblocks,” she told the audience. “I am a very determined person.”

If there is not some level of cooperation, “we are prepared to do what is necessary to get to the facts,” Lightfoot said.

It’s expected that Henyard will ultimately, perhaps at the next regularly scheduled Village Board meeting May 6, veto the trustees’ action to hire Lightfoot.

A law firm working for the village had sent a letter to the trustees, or more specifically a law firm working on their behalf, saying that any action by the trustees to hire Lightfoot would be overstepping their authority.

Under the terms of her hiring agreement, Lightfoot will provide regular updates to trustees, and when her billing totals $30,000 will give a full summary of her investigation to trustees.

Trustees have said that in preparing Dolton’s new budget for the next fiscal year, they intend to include money to pay for Lightfoot’s services.

The four trustees at the meeting where Lightfoot was hired also voted to override a prior veto by the mayor of a resolution adopted by the trustees calling for outside agencies to investigate Henyard.