A Springfield man has sued District 186 School Board vice president Adam Lopez for financial exploitation of the elderly, alleging Lopez took about $69,000 from him through an investment scheme.
Ronald Standridge filed suit against Lopez on Tuesday in Sangamon County Circuit Court.
Financial exploitation of the elderly is a crime that also has a civil remedy in Illinois law. The crime is defined in Illinois statute as having a person in a position of trust or confidence knowingly deceive a person older than 60 to obtain control over their property or illegally use the elderly person's assets.
Lopez and his attorneys did not return calls seeking comment. Lopez, who had been a Country Financial agent since 2007, was fired in early September after the company said it received complaints from Lopezs customers and subsequently found what itsaid wereirregularities in a review of accounts overseen by Lopez. The Springfield Police Department has an ongoing investigation.
Lopez had defended himself in a statement in September, citing "unnecessary and false rumors that have circulated through the community."
"My family and I are determining our next steps as I explore my options and consider new opportunities for employment," he had said in that statement.
The lawsuit says that Standridge first met Lopez in 2018 when he and his wife hired Lopez to review insurance policy quotes on their home and car. Standridge and his wife "began to trust Lopez as an insurance and investment professional and placed confidence in him," the lawsuit stated.
Standridge told Lopez he had two individual retirement accounts with more than $35,000 and that he wanted to retire in the next few years, according to the lawsuit. Lopez than allegedly advised Standridge he could place the money from their IRAs in a "tax deferred account" through Lopez. The account would turn a profit and the couple would receive $2,000 a month.
Standridge liquidated both of his IRAs and deposited about $73,000 in a personal joint-checking account with his wife. Over the course of two weeks in August, Standridge's wife cut two checks to Lopez, who allegedly told her to put them in his name and said the funds would be transferred from his "expense" account to an account in their names, the lawsuit stated.
On Sept. 14, Lopez personally delivered a $4,000 check to the Standridges' home, saying it was the result of their agreed-to investment strategy. Three days letter, the Standridges received a letter from Lopez's employer, Country Financial, saying that Lopez was no longer with the company, according to the lawsuit.
After Standridge's wife contacted Lopez, he allegedly came to their home on Sept. 18. There, he showed them documents showing Standridge's money had been invested with "Jackson National Life Insurance Company." The Standridges didn't see any account numbers on the documents, according to the lawsuit.
"Lopez continued to assert that everything was fine, that he had not been terminated and was working things out with his employer, and Standridge's money was secure," the lawsuit stated.
After the Standridges found out from local news that Lopez had been fired and was under investigation, they asked Lopez to return their money. Lopez didn't respond to their request, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit is asking for about $69,000, and that the court triple the amount of damages at trial.
Standridge's attorney, August Appleton, said his client was not being made available for comment. He said Standridge has been in contact with Springfield police, and that he had no further comment.
Springfield Police Lt. Brian Oakes said the department is in the information-gathering stage of an investigation that could take months. He saidthere was more than one alleged victim.
"Hes listed in the report and that report is under investigation, Oakes said of Lopez.
A Springfield couple, Beverly and Bob Lenhart, toldWICS Channel20 in September that about $600,000 of their money was missing after Lopez, their nephew, said he would invest it. Lopez denied wrongdoing in that case to the station.
After it was reported that Lopez was under investigation, Lincoln Land Community College announced it had rescinded its agreement to hosthis fourth annual Adam Lopez Thanksgiving Tournament, a high school basketball tournament. In previous years, the tournament had been sponsored by Lopez's Country Financial office and had taken place at Lanphier High School. Not only did the location change this year, but Snap Fitness 24-7, which has local locations owned by Lopez's wife, was set to sponsor the tournament.
The landlord of his now-closed Country Financial office is also attempting to evict Lopez from his now-closed Country Financial office because he owes $4,500 in rent.
Lopez has been on the District 186 school board since 2013.