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IG says former Illinois official illegally deleted records – Chicago Tribune

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The former head of a state agency that was reviewing whether then-President Donald Trump was due a $1 million property tax refund for his Chicago skyscraper violated the law by deleting computer files from his official account while facing an inspector general investigation, according to a report released Thursday.

Mauro Glorioso, then executive director of Illinois’ Property Tax Appeal Board, was informed in late September 2020 that Gov. J.B. Pritzker planned to replace him as head of the agency, records show. At the time, Glorioso was under investigation by the Office of Executive Inspector General regarding a case before the board.

The details of that investigation are blacked out in the inspector general’s report released Thursday, but a source familiar with the matter confirmed that the office was investigating Glorioso’s conduct regarding the property tax appeal for Trump Tower. The Chicago Sun-Times first reported the investigation.

Trump International Hotel & Tower in Chicago, center, is seen on March 29, 2021.

Trump International Hotel & Tower in Chicago, center, is seen on March 29, 2021. (Terrence Antonio James / Chicago Tribune)

The inspector general’s office determined the initial complaint was “unfounded” and redacted details from that inquiry in its report. But the office found that Glorioso violated agency policy and state law by deleting emails and other documents related to the matter while preparing to leave the $116,748-per-year job. Board employees had been instructed to retain copies of all files related to the matter, according to the inspector general’s report.

The inspector general’s office recommended barring Glorioso from future state employment.

An unnamed employee reported to the board’s chairman and the inspector general’s office on Oct. 14 that he had discovered a large number of files, including documents related to the still pending investigation, had been deleted from Glorioso’s folder on the agency’s computer network earlier that month, the report says.

During its investigation, the inspector general’s office found that Glorioso had deleted 200 emails related to the appeal on Oct. 2, three days after he had been interviewed about the earlier complaint, according to the report. Dozens more were deleted Oct. 5.

However, by reviewing backup files recovered from the state Department of Innovation and Technology, the inspector general’s office determined they “were identical or highly similar to materials previously obtained” through its investigation and therefore “did not affect the outcome of the investigation into the underlying complaint.”

Glorioso never agreed to a second interview with the inspector general’s office regarding the deleted files.

An attorney for Glorioso did not respond Thursday to a request for comment.

In a written response and sworn affidavit released with the report, Glorioso denied any wrongdoing, saying he only deleted the files because he knew backups existed and were in the state’s possession.

“No one from the (Property Tax Appeal Board) IT department, or any other individual, had ever suggested to me that such a practice was not allowed,” Glorioso said in the affidavit. “To the best of my knowledge, backups of any emails or files that I deleted on my work computer are available today at the (Department of Innovation and Technology) should anyone wish to view them.”

Glorioso, a Republican attorney from west suburban Westchester, began working for the Property Tax Appeal Board in 2000 as an administrative law judge. Then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich appointed him to the five-member board in 2008, and he served until March 2019, when he became executive director.

After Glorioso’s termination last year, the state board ruled in June that the Cook County Board of Review in 2011 had overvalued the retail, hotel and parking space of Trump Tower and that the former president’s company was due a $1 million refund from the Cook County treasurer. The Cook County state’s attorney’s office has asked an appeals court to review the state board’s decision.

The agency’s new executive director, Michael O’Malley, said in a statement that he would not comment on the inspector general’s findings “other than to say that this board will continue to hold its staff and fellow board members to the highest standards of ethics and professionalism.”

“Additionally, in an email to staff, I instructed PTAB staff to read the published OEIG report and use it as an example of what not to do during the course of an OEIG investigation,” O’Malley said.

dpetrella@chicagotribune.com

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