Illinois Mayor Accused of Misusing Funds, Partying in Las Vegas, Vetoes Probe

Tucked away in the scenic countryside, Dolton is a charming village known for its quiet streets and friendly neighbors. Life here is slow-paced, with locals enjoying the simple pleasures of community living. However, recent events have shaken Dolton to its core. 

Scandal has struck, turning the peaceful village upside down. Tiffany Henyard, the mayor of Dolton, Illinois, has been accused of using over $1 million of taxpayer money to support her extravagant lifestyle, which reportedly included a security detail akin to that of a U.S. president. 

In response to these allegations, she has even vetoed an attempt by the local Village Board to launch an investigation into the purported misuse of funds. Just recently, the six-trustee Dolton Village Board voted to launch an investigation into Mayor Tiffany Henyard’s actions.

 The resolution requested assistance from the Cook County Sheriff, the state’s attorney general’s office, and the FBI for the probe. However, Henyard swiftly intervened by issuing a veto to nullify the resolution. She argues that the board acted unconstitutionally and disregarded the law. 

Expressing shock at the board’s lack of understanding of municipal governance, Henyard remains confident of victory when the situation is resolved. The Dolton trustees stated that Mayor Henyard’s spending has led to a “multimillion-dollar deficit” in the town. 

According to the trustees, this deficit has made it difficult for the village to pay for basic services like fixing roads and trimming trees. Dolton, located about 15 miles south of Chicago in Cook County, is home to around 21,000 residents, with a predominantly Black population. 

The median household income is approximately $55,000, and over 20% of residents live below the poverty line. Despite the economic struggles of many residents, Mayor Henyard earns around $270,000 annually, including her salary as a Township Supervisor. 

She has proposed reducing the mayor’s salary to just $25,000 if she is not re-elected. Many of her critics argue that this move is aimed at discouraging potential challengers. Henyard’s plan to slash the mayor’s salary if she loses re-election is seen by many as a tactic to deter challengers. 

By making the salary much lower, it could discourage people who need a higher income from running against her. This move might limit the number of candidates and help her stay in power.

Details of this scandal

Tiffany Henyard assumed office as Dolton’s mayor in 2021, but her tenure has been marked by persistent controversy and turmoil. The first female mayor of Dolton, Henyard has faced criticism for her lavish lifestyle funded by taxpayers. It is worth noting that Henyard stands as the youngest person to be elected to the post in Dalton’s history, which spans 128 years.

Since her election in 2021, she has drawn scrutiny for her high salary of $300,000 and extravagant expenses, sparking controversy in the small village of 20,000 residents. According to critics, Henyard frequently hires professional hair and makeup artists and stylists for public events and photo shoots, often funded by taxpayers.

These photo shoots are used for county billboards, featuring Henyard in what some consider excessive self-promotion. She is often seen in elegant and expensive clothing and has shared images of herself exiting chauffeured SUVs.

In one Instagram post, she even appears with a dog adorned with expensive-looking jewelry. In 2021, Henyard faced criticism from the community after it was revealed that she hired a registered child sex offender who had worked on her campaign to be the town’s code enforcement officer. This role involves inspecting homes and businesses.

Trustees in the Village of Dolton, home to around 23,000 residents, expressed shock that Henyard offered Lavelle Redmond a municipal job, which draws a decent yearly salary of more than $31,200, without consulting them. Despite facing backlash from village leaders and residents, Henyard stood by her decision to hire Redmond, stating her belief in giving ex-convicts “second chances” once they have served their time.

Following his conviction, Redmond, 46, spent 24 years in prison after pleading guilty to two counts of aggravated criminal sexual assault with a weapon. This stemmed from a 1991 gang rape incident involving two girls, aged 13 and 14.

Reports indicate that Redmond, then 16 years old, and three others were involved in the kidnapping and sexual assault. At the age of 17, Redmond was sentenced to 50 years in prison. However, he was granted parole in 2016 and mandated to register as a sex offender.

Henyard’s spending habits also came under scrutiny for a trip to Las Vegas, where she reportedly incurred hefty expenses. In 2023, she flew first class, costing taxpayers $3,741, purportedly to attend a conference. 

During her stay in Southern Nevada, her expense reports revealed over $8,400 in hotel charges, a restaurant bill of $587 at Ruth’s Chris Steak House, and nearly $400 spent at Hot N’ Juicy Crawfish.

Despite Mayor Henyard’s veto, the FBI is actively investigating allegations related to her activities. According to FOX 32, six individuals, including business owners, a former village employee, and public officials, have been questioned by the agency regarding Henyard’s alleged misconduct.

One individual, Lawrence Gardner, the owner of a Dolton-based U-Haul rental and trucking business, stated that he approached the FBI after experiencing difficulties renewing his business license. 

Gardner alleges harassment, a police raid on his business, and closure by Dolton police, which he believes is retaliation for refusing to donate to an event sponsored by Henyard. While Henyard’s public relations firm stated that she has not been contacted by the FBI, the agency has declined to comment on any ongoing investigations.

Burt Odelson, a municipal attorney representing Mayor Henyard’s political opponents, strongly denounced these actions, labeling them as “flagrantly illegal.” He expressed to FOX 32 that such behavior “violates numerous legal principles.”

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, the unfolding saga in Dolton serves as a stark reminder of the importance of integrity and accountability in public office. Mayor Tiffany Henyard’s actions have shaken the foundation of trust upon which the village relies, leaving residents grappling with uncertainty and disillusionment. 

As the investigation into her alleged misconduct continues, the residents of Dolton are left to ponder the implications for their community’s future. Will justice be served, restoring faith in local governance, or will the repercussions of this scandal cast a long shadow over Dolton’s reputation? Only time will tell as the village navigates through these tumultuous times.