The Legacy of the 1970’s and the “Persistent Question”

In the early 1970’s, John Gregg Allerton requested an accounting of all the accounts for Allerton Park, Farms and House. From 1972 until 1979, he was stonewalled by the Foundation Assistant Comptroller who managed all of the Allerton accounts.

2014 10 25 Pottys ready for raceLetter dated May 21, 1976 from Vice-President in charge of Allerton Park to the Chief Accountant for Allerton Accounts:

We find that we need more basic information, and part of it can best come from you. Could you, therefore, please give us the story on income generation and allocations- a three or four year report on the Allerton Farms income, the allocation made therefrom, and whatever else you think we should know….. what we are looking for at the moment is the report…. With some suggested response to Mr. Allerton’s persistent question.

On August 19, 1976, this same Vice-President made his second request for the financial reporting.

I wrote to you on May 21 about “Mr. Allerton’s persistent question,” after talking to President …., and asked for some basic information. Several things have happened since then…. But in a sense, these things heighten, rather than lessen, the need for the information requested.

University oversight for Allerton transferred again in 1977. The outgoing Vice-President in charge of Allerton wrote to the Chancellor on January 24, 1977.

As we evolved the new relationships for the Allerton Trust, we have said nothing about the financial arrangements… Administration of these matters in the past was often marred by financial complexities and the allocation of funds by outside sources, outside standards, and outside responsibilities.

In a second letter to the Chancellor dated January 31, 1977, this same Vice-President said in his closing remarks:

I should think that somebody still needs to know what I have not been able to find out about the finances: the total picture with respect to income, expenditures, and reserves, at least the current status of all accounts whether in historical perspective or not. You will see from the two attached letters dates May 21 and August 19, 1976, that I tried to get this information from …. but never succeeded. We did get some light thrown independently on the farm-income problem but that’s all. Now that a transfer of responsibility is taking place, I should think you would want to know precisely what you are inheriting.

Only after John’s attorney pressed the matter did John begin receiving this information in annual reports. In 1979, a redacted audit of the Allerton accounts was released to John Gregg’s attorney for the 1976 calendar year. This typed report presented a summary of account categories.125

Throughout the 1970’s and into the 1980’s, all of the Allerton accounts were audited by one Foundation employee. It was this employee, who rose to the position of Assistant Comptroller by 1976, who refused compliance to the Chancellor audit request for nearly five years. In 1981, this University of Illinois Foundation accountant in charge of all of the Allerton Accounts was indicted for embezzlement of over $600,000 of Foundation funds. There is no archived documentation to indicate Allerton funds were compromised by this employee. There is no archived documentation found to indicate they were not. Local urban legend reports an Allerton employee observed Allerton and University Officials burning documents about this same time. The trial of this employee took place in LaSalle County. The transcript of the trial is sealed. An Appeal upheld the guilty verdict.

Certainly there are many questions that arise from this lack of historical transparency.

In 1981, the same year an audit discovered missing Foundation funds, Park Directorship changed. From 1960-1981, Allerton Park directorship was held by one person. Soon after, the resident House Manager’s employment ended.

For the locals, the 1980’s saw a renewal of Allerton Park and House. Improvements were made. Programs were developed. The Public saw an evolving partnership between the House and the Park that continues today.

But by the 1980’s, were the losses to much for the Park and the House to recover?

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