(The Center Square) – An appeal has been filed in the case a member of the Illinois State Police Merit Board brought against Jenny Thornley, the former merit board employee at the center of a multipronged case of alleged worker’s compensation fraud with connections to Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s office.
In April 2021, Emily Fox, an employee of the merit board, filed a lawsuit against Thornley in Sangamon County Circuit Court. The case was filed under seal.
Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul motioned to have the case dismissed on Dec. 7, 2021.
“The State determined through its investigation that this action is legally deficient,” the motion said, “and, as such, the costs to the State and the judicial system of litigating this matter outweigh any benefits of permitting this action to proceed.”
In March, a Sangamon County judge dismissed the case. Documents were lifted from the seal on July 29. Those documents showed a worker's compensation claim form Thornley filed on Jan. 1, 2020, listed at first “JB Pritzker” as her supervisor and the "Governor’s office" as her employer. A separate form filed on May 2, 2020, Thornley listed her employer as “Office of Gov” and her supervisor as Ann Spillane, the governor's general counsel. Thornley didn't work for the governor's office, she worked for the Illinois State Police Merit Board.
The claims Thornley made of being the victim of sexual assault were unfounded, according to an independent investigation that cost taxpayers $550,000.
On Tuesday, Fox appealed to the Appellate Court of Illinois Fourth Judicial District.
The filing “alleges a multi-pronged scheme to defraud the State of Illinois, including with the active complicity of the General Counsel to the Governor, perhaps the Governor himself, and other high-ranking officials.”
An Illinois Central Management Services memo to the AG’s office in January obtained through a public records request lists disability payments going to Thornley totaling $63,517 from July 21, 2020, to Sept. 1, 2021. Medical costs during that time totaled $2,586. Other costs incurred in the case include legal expenses totaling $12,536, surveillance costs of $8,038, bill review costs of $8,038 and photocopy costs of $316.
Fox’s appeal “will raise the following questions: (1) whether the Illinois False Claims Act’s statutory requirement of a hearing by the Circuit Court prior to dismissal of an Illinois False Claims Act complaint has any substance; (2) whether the Due Process clauses of the Illinois and U.S. Constitutions apply to the Attorney General and require that his decision to move to dismiss a relator’s False Claims Act case must be rational and not arbitrary; and (3) whether the Circuit Court properly considered arguments and evidence raised only in reply.”
Separately, Raoul said he referred allegations of worker’s compensation fraud against Thornley to the state’s appellate prosecutor’s office, something the appellate prosecutor’s office said in an email to the AG’s office they don’t have.
“[The appellate prosecutor’s office] has never done – to my knowledge – any worker's compensation fraud case,” Chief Deputy Director of the State’s Attorneys Appellate Prosecutor David Robinson wrote in the email to Raoul's office. “Our experience has been that those issues are directed to the AG’s worker’s comp fraud division.”