Two directors of the Evanston-Wilmette Golf Course Association have filed a lawsuit against board president John Losasso and the nonprofit association that runs the golf course, alleging that Losasso ignored the association’s bylaws, breached his fiduciary duties and acted nearly unilaterally in various closed-door business dealings.
The lawsuit was filed by Johns C. Richards and Gerald T. Murphy earlier this month in the Circuit Court of Cook County.
Some of the suit’s most egregious claims accuse Losasso of partaking in a “pattern of self-dealing,” including conducting secret meetings with Northwestern University in an attempt to sell, lease or transfer portions of the golf course property, and awarding a $19,000 no-bid contract for the remodeling and redecoration of a new golf course office to a construction company operated by his daughter and son-in-law.
A full copy of the lawsuit can be viewed in PDF form to the right.
Last summer, the Evanston City Council voted to keep water running to the golf course, despite the fact the course owed the Evanston nearly $14,000 and the Village of Wilmette nearly $8,000 in unpaid water bills. In March, course officials lobbied Evanston aldermen to consider providing water service to the course free of charge. Evanston Ald. Judy Fiske (1st Ward) reportedly supported the idea, saying the golf course should be viewed as a city park.
However, the lawsuit alleges that numerous golf course bills “have been left unpaid while [Losasso] … championed an extravagant, expensive, and unnecessary plan to relocate the golf course offices.” The suit also points out that the clubhouse construction cost more than the amount owed to the City of Evanston.
Losasso responded to the accusations in an April 24 Evanston Review article, saying the association’s executive committee would meet to discuss the lawsuit and would release a statement in the near future.
“We consider it a frivolous suit and we will be responding,” Losasso said in the article. “We believe the persons making these allegations made absolutely no reasonable attempt to vet the information they have alleged.”
A Northwestern University spokesperson said the school declined to comment on the accusations at this time.
Other allegations against Losasso and the nonprofit association in the 26-page lawsuit include:
- Operating contrary to the corporate bylaws and in violation of the Illinois statutes
- Improper revision of the association’s bylaws
- Failing to properly account for receipts documenting expenses and purchases
- Transacting corporate business without a quorum
- Failing to permit directors to examine corporate records and books
- Losasso continuing to hold office in excess of term limits without a proper election
- Attempting to remove directors who disagreed with Losasso’s policies
- Attempting to reduce the board size by never filling director vacancies
- Failing to keep proper minutes or maintain records on a regular basis
- Holding meetings without providing proper notice to all directors
- Failing to ensure upkeep of the golf course
- Closing the golf course during a mild winter despite selling year-round season passes
The suit asks for the reinstatement of directors who were “improperly removed from the board,” injunctive relief preventing the defendants from conducting any business or action without board consent, the reinstatement of bylaws passed in 2007, the cancelation of all “improper contracts” negotiated by Losasso, and for damages and court costs “in an amount presently unknown.”
The Evanston-Wilmette Golf Course currently comprises 18 holes: 11 in Evanston and seven in Wilmette. In past years, the course has been known as the Frank Govern Memorial Golf Course and the Peter N. Jans Community Golf Course.