By JOSEPH G. LARIOSA
(© 2017 Journal GlobaLinks)
CHICAGO (JGL) — Like any human being, the Filipino American Council of Greater Chicago (FACGC), which took a corporate life of its own when it was incorporated on March 5, 1953 under the name of The Filipino National Council of Chicago (FNCC), it cannot be represented by competing lawyers.
In upholding the argument of Filipino American lawyer Arcadio “Jun” Joaquin, Jr., Circuit Court of Cook County Judge Sophia H. Hall denied the petition of Filipino American Maria Elaine Campos-Moya Lehman’s lawyer Jonathan Strauss to intervene on behalf of the FACC on the pending lawsuit filed by Mr. Joaquin to stop cold Lehman, 51, from further usurping her duties as “Executive Director” and/or “Resident Manager” of the Rizal Heritage Center (RHC) in the north side of Chicago, Illinois.
Mr. Joaquin said, “There is only one FACGC in the state of Illinois, and even the entire U.S. and there cannot be another FACGC and if there is one, who is the intervenor, it has no legal capacity. It has no authority to file a petition to intervene and the judge fortunately agreed with me.”
Mr. Joaquin has accused Ms. Lehman of committing “several other acts, which are adverse, inimical and prejudicial to the interests of FACC.”
In an order handed down on Sept. 19 after an oral argument of Lehman’s attempt to cloak herself as a legitimate party to represent the FACC, Judge Hall said she is denying Ms. Lehman’s petition to intervene but gave her an opportunity to file an “amended petition to intervene” and the case is set for status hearing on Oct. 17, 2017 at 9:30 a.m. at Room 2301.
MS. MARIA ELAINE CAMPOS-MOYA LEHMAN (JGL Photo by JOSEPH G. LARIOSA)
A jubilant Mr. Joaquin said the judge’s denial of Lehman’s petition to intervene simply means that Lehman has “no legal capacity and no legal authority to file the motion to intervene on behalf of the FACGC and Mr. Strauss was given leave (permission) to file an amended motion if he so desires. And if there will be no amended motion, the (motion) case will forever be denied.”
SEEKING INJUNCTIVE RELIEF in her petition to intervene, Ms. Lehman’s lawyer is opposing Mr. Joaquin’s emergency motion for temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction with notice against Lehman, “an unpaid volunteer of the FACC as Executive Director, seeking injunctive relief, ordering her to immediately vacate the premises (of the RHC) at 1332 W. Irving Park, Chicago, to cease and desist from entering the Building, to cease representing the FACC, and to surrender the keys to the Building. Plaintiff also seeks to have two tenancies in the Building restored.”
Lehman’s lawyer said since her appointment “as Executive Director of the FACC, a schism occurred and two different and distinct groups now claim to represent the FACC as its Board of Directors.
“Each claims support from the Filipino community of Greater Chicago, which comprise (sic) the membership of the FACC and the two factions appear to be divided along political lines as well as geographical lines based on the specific islands of the Philippines their families emigrated from.
“Allegations of cronyism, corruption, and incompetence have been alleged by both factions. Ms. Lehman continues to have the support of one such group. The other group brought this injunctive action.”
In his opposition to petition for intervention, Mr. Joaquin said that FACGC enjoys tax exemption benefit from the Internal Revenue Service and was able to register with the Office of the Attorney General as a Charitable Organization. However, due to annual report deficiencies, the said registration was cancelled.
The FACGC also sponsored, for several years, different programs or projects beneficial to the Filipino American community.
RIZAL HERITAGE CENTER:
THE RIZAL HERITAGE CENTER is the home of the Filipino American Council of Greater Chicago in Illinois. (JGL Photo by JOSEPH G. LARIOSA)
However, due to lack of funds, not all of said programs or projects materialize.
GOOD FIRST IMPRESSION
Due to plaintiff’s corporation’s predicament, it started looking for someone who may be able to suggest or recommend solutions to its financial projects beneficial to the Filipino American community.
When a FACGC member introduced Lehman to the board of the FACGC, a non-member of FACGC, and virtually unknown in the Filipino American community, she mesmerized the board with her “first impression” as heaven-sent, who could solve what ails the FACGC.
Without putting Ms. Lehman under probation and sufficient vetting of her personal and professional background because she was “very articulate, convincing and persuasive individual,” the FACGC board appointed her as its Executive Director because she claimed she could obtain “grants” for the organization.
But on the same day of Jan. 27, 2017 of her appointment as Executive Director, “Lehman improperly and unjustifiably began to purge the Board of Trustees by first terminating six (6) members of the Board. This act was in violation of Plaintiff’s constitution,” according to the complaint. She also shortened the terms of office of the members of the FACGC Board.
“Shortly, thereafter, defendant Elaine Lehman created her own Board and drew up a new “FACC” Constitution in lieu of the Constitution adopted and approved on May 20, 2016. This act of Elaine Lehman was without the consent and approval of the Board of Trustees that appointed her, and without following the proper procedure in revising and amending the Constitution.”
LEHMAN, A PHILIPPINE NATIVE
By the first week of February 2017, Ms. Lehman, a Philippine native, began, without notice and without the approval of the Board, to unlawfully and unjustifiably make physical changes at RHC, such as among others.
- Changing the locks of the entrance door;
- Posting a sign at the entrance door, which reads: “CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE;”
- Removing the historic portraits of past presidents of “FACC”;
- Barring anyone, including the members of the Board, from entering the Building;
- Decimated the library;
- Defacing RHC by removing the signage, which reads, “Filipino-American Council of Greater Chicago.”
Lehman, without authority and without the knowledge and approval of the board, evicted its two tenants — Alfonso S. Bacos and the Alliance of Filipino Immigrant Rights and Empowerment (AFIRE), without sufficient advanced notices.
To make sure that she has full control of the FACC, Lehman “is the only one holding the keys and no one could enter the (RHC) building.”
The plaintiff told the court if Ms. Lehman will not be restrained, “the plaintiff may not be able to recover any damages from defendant since she has no assets and is unemployed.”
From her designation as Executive Director, Lehman also added a title to her name, “Resident Manager,” so she can occupy rent-free one of the rooms of the RHC and had converted it into a living space for herself and her husband, Ari Lehman.