EUREKA - Pete Lambie said he made a mistake, but it had nothing to do with politics.
Lambie, 79, a Woodford County Board member and Spring Bay township assessor, is being investigated for increasing the assessments on another board member's property, allegedly as political revenge.
The allegations are being investigated by the Illinois Appellate Prosecutor's office in Springfield. State's Attorney Mike Stroh forwarded the complaint to that office due to a potential conflict.
On Jan. 3, Lambie brought in assessment changes on two properties owned by Joel Lemkemann. A house valued at $79,380 was increased to $143,740. Lambie admits a mistake on that assessment.
"When you make a mistake, you are supposed to say, 'Look, I made a mistake,' and that is what I'm doing," said Lambie. "I didn't do this because of a grudge against anybody."
According to his attorney, L. Lee Smith, there are two houses on a single piece of property, and Lambie accidentally assessed the wrong house.
"I think anybody would have a hard time figuring these out," said Smith. "Maybe at 80 years, you are entitled to a little bit of latitude."
Smith said that change has been withdrawn.
However, an increase on another of Lemkemann's properties - a rental house increased from $15,930 up to $54,120 - is correct, said Smith.
The two properties changed are located about two miles apart.
Lemkemann is adamant the assessment changes targeted him for his vote against tax caps at the Dec. 20 county board meeting. The motion, brought by Lambie, failed 8-7.
Lemkemann said Lambie had threatened retaliation.
â"He had already threatened me. There was no accident about it," said Lemkemann. "I didn't think he would be foolish enough to do it quite that blatantly."
Lemkemann said he has notes from his conversations with Lambie. Additionally, Lambie told others about his intentions as well, said Lemkemann.
Smith said Lambie's actions started when he was given a copy of a building permit for a horse barn on one of the properties.
"The giving out of permits starts the process," said Smith. "Somebody is drawing conclusions from the timing of this that I don't think are accurate conclusions. It really should not have merited an allegation of criminal conduct."