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UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS

EASTERN DIVISION


UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,               

                                    Plaintiff,                                No.      

                                                                                  

THE HILLEBOLD FAMILY TRUST,
JOHN HILLEBOLD as TRUSTEE,
and ROSEMARY HILLEBOLD,
INDIVIDUALLY and as TRUSTEE,

                                    Defendants.


COMPLAINT


            The United States, by its attorney, PATRICK J. FITZGERALD, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, for its complaint states:

            1. This is a civil action brought by the United States of America to enforce Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, as amended by the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601-3619 (The "Fair Housing Act"). This action is brought by the United States on behalf of Joan M. Stover and the South Suburban Housing Center pursuant to Section 812(o) of the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 3612(o).

            2. This Court has jurisdiction over this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1345 and 42 U.S.C. § 3612(o).

            3. Venue is proper under 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b) because the actions giving rise to the United States' allegations occurred in the Northern District of Illinois and the subject property is located in the Northern District of Illinois.

            4. Joan M. Stover is a white female.

            5. South Suburban Housing Center (SSHC) is a non-profit organization located in Homewood, Illinois. SSHC's purpose is to promote a unitary housing market that eliminates discrimination based on race or other protected characteristics and fosters stable, long-term diverse communities in the south and southwest Chicago metropolitan area.

            6. The subject property is located at 1802 Heatherway Lane in New Lenox, Illinois. It is a twelve-unit apartment building with six units on each floor. The subject property is a dwelling as defined in Section 802(b) of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3602(b).

            7. At all times relevant to this action, defendant Hillebold Family Trust was the owner of the subject property located in New Lenox, Illinois.

            8. At all times relevant to this action, defendants John and Rosemary Hillebold were Trustees of the defendant Hillebold Family Trust.

            9. At all times relevant to this action, defendant Rosemary Hillebold managed the subject property.

Factual Allegations

            10. On or about November 1, 1994, Ms. Stover moved into apartment 2E, a two-bedroom unit located at the subject property. At that time, her rent was $550 per month.

            11. Shortly after Ms. Stover moved into the subject property, defendant Rosemary Hillebold told her that as long as she owned the building, there would be no Mexicans or blacks living there.

            12. In or around November 2000, the defendants raised Ms. Stover's rent by $25 per month, to $575 per month.

            13. In or around December 2000, Stover's ex-fiancé, who is Caucasian, moved into her apartment at the subject property and lived there for approximately one year. Although defendant Rosemary Hillebold knew that Ms. Stover had a roommate, there was no increase in her rent during this time.

            14. In fact, until October 2004, over a period of ten years, except for the $25 increase in November 2000, Ms. Stover's rent never was increased.

            15. In June 2004, Ms. Stover spoke to Ms. Hillebold about the possibility of having her unit painted, stating that she wanted it painted only if it would not cause an increase in her rent at her next lease renewal, which was to occur on October 31, 2004. Ms. Hillebold agreed to paint the apartment, and assured Ms. Stover that she would not raise her rent.

            16. In mid-July 2004, Ms. Stover's boyfriend, Turmond Durden, who is African-American, moved into her unit at the subject property.

            17. After defendant Rosemary Hillebold learned that Mr. Durden was living with Stover, she increased Ms. Stover's rent by $50 per month, from $575 to $625.

            18. Although prior to July 2004 Ms. Stover's requested repairs had been made in a timely manner, after Mr. Durden moved in, repeated requests to repair Ms. Stover's stove were ignored.

            19. Ms. Stover's apartment never was painted.

            20. On or about September 4, 2004, Ms. Hillebold drove to Ms. Stover's parents' home and spoke with her mother, Barbara Stover, a person defendant had met only once before. Ms. Hillebold told Barbara Stover that she was having problems with her daughter and her black male friend, who was frequently on the property.

            21. That same day, as a result of Ms. Hillebold's visit, Barbara Stover and her husband went to the subject property to confront their daughter, Joan Stover. As a result of that interaction, Joan Stover and her parents became estranged from each other.

            22. Ms. Stover and Mr. Durden decided that they had to move from the subject property. On the evening of September 4, 2004, Ms. Stover spoke to Ms. Hillebold and asked to be put on a month-to-month lease until she could find another place to live.

            23. During this telephone conversation, Ms. Hillebold agreed to put Ms. Stover on a month-to-month lease, but announced that her rent would increase by another $50 per month, to $675 per month.

            24. Ms. Stover was unable to find another place to live before the end of 2004. In early January of 2005, Ms. Hillebold visited Ms. Stover's unit and told her she needed to move out as soon as possible. Ms. Hillebold told Ms. Stover that she could not show units at the building when Mr. Durden was around.

            25. After Ms. Stover located housing in or around mid-January 2005, she advised Ms. Hillebold of her intent to vacate her unit at the end of February. During this conversation, Ms. Hillebold made discriminatory statements, including a statement that she had nothing against "those people" but she preferred that they not live in her building.

            26. In or around January of 2005, Ms. Stover contacted SSHC to complain about discrimination by Hillebold.

            27. In response to the information provided by Ms. Stover, between February 1, 2005 and March 24, 2005, SSHC conducted several housing tests on the subject property. Some black testers were told that no apartments were available for rent when there were, in fact, apartments available for rent and when some white testers were being told about those availabilities. In addition, some of the black testers were quoted higher amounts for the security deposit than those that were quoted to the white testers.

            28. In or around May 2005, a prospective bona fide black applicant, Erin King, applied for a two-bedroom unit at the subject property. Ms. King was told that the security deposit was $1,000, although white testers had been told that the security deposit was $700.

            29. On or around June 27, 2005, Joan Stover and the South Suburban Housing Center filed timely complaints of discrimination with the Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development ("the Secretary") alleging that Defendants had engaged in housing discrimination on the basis of race in violation of the Fair Housing Act.

            30. Pursuant to the requirements of Sections 810(a) and (b) of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3610(a) and (b), the Secretary conducted an investigation of the complaints, attempted conciliation without success, and prepared a final investigative report.

            31. Based on the information gathered in that investigation, the Secretary, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3610(g)(1), determined that reasonable cause existed to believe that discriminatory housing practices had occurred. On September 25, 2006, the Secretary issued a Charge of Discrimination pursuant to Section 810(g)(2)(A) of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3610(g)(2)(A), charging defendants with engaging in discriminatory housing practices, based on race, in violation of the Fair Housing Act.

            32. On October 10, 2006, Complainant South Suburban Housing Center timely elected to have the charge resolved in a federal civil action pursuant to Section 812(a) of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3612(a).

            33. On or about October 18, 2006, the Secretary authorized the Attorney General to commence a civil action on behalf of the Complainants pursuant to Section 812(o) of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3612(o).

Fair Housing Act Claims

            34. By the facts and conduct alleged above in paragraphs 10-33, defendants have:

                        A.        Discriminated against persons in the terms, conditions or privileges of rental, or in the provision of services or facilities in connection therewith, of a dwelling because of race, in violation of Section 804(b) of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3604(b);

                        B.        Made statements with respect to the rental of a dwelling indicating a preference, limitation, or discrimination based on race, or an intention to make any such preference, limitation, or discrimination, in violation of Section 804(c) of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3604(c); and

                        C.        Represented to persons because of race that a dwelling was not available for inspection or rental when such dwelling was in fact so available, in violation of Section 804(d) of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3604(d).

            35. Joan Stover is an aggrieved person within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. § 3602(i), and has suffered damages as a result of the defendants' discriminatory conduct as described above.

            36. South Suburban Housing Center is an aggrieved person within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. § 3602(i), and, as a result of the defendants' discriminatory conduct as described above, has suffered damages, including the frustration of its mission and diversion of its resources.

            37. Defendants' conduct described herein was intentional, willful, and taken in disregard for the rights of Joan Stover and South Suburban Housing Center.

            WHEREFORE, the United States prays that the Court enter an order that:

                        (i)        Declares that Defendants' conduct as alleged herein violates the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601, et seq.;

                        (ii)       Enjoins Defendants, their agents, employees, and successors, and all other persons in active concert or participation with them from discriminating on the basis of race against any person in any aspect of the rental of a dwelling, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 3612(o)(3) and 3613(c)(1);

                        (iii)      Awards monetary damages to Complainants pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 3612(o)(3) and 3613(c)(1); and

                        (iv)      Awards such additional relief as the interests of justice may require.


Respectfully submitted,


PATRICK J. FITZGERALD
United States Attorney



By:
JOAN LASER
Assistant United States
Attorney
219 South Dearborn Street
Chicago, Illinois 60604
(312)
353-1857

Document Filed: November 8, 2006
General Information Housing and Civil Enforcement Section
 
Leadership
Steven H. Rosenbaum
Chief
Contact
Housing & Civil
Enforcement Section
(202) 514-4713
TTY - 202-305-1882
FAX - (202) 514-1116
To Report an Incident of Housing Discrimination:
1-800-896-7743
Mailing Contact
U.S. Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Housing and Civil Enforcement Section, NWB
Washington, D.C. 20530

Email: fairhousing@usdoj.gov

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