Lawsuit accuses Winnebago County Board, Global Tel Link of violating Illinois law

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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) -- A new lawsuit accuses the Winnebago County Board and telecommunications service provider Global Tel Link of violating Illinois law and Winnebago County code when the board voted to provide jail inmates with computer tablets and awarded the contract to GTL.

Attorney Mike Hayes with the Ryan Law firm in Chicago filed the suit Tuesday in the 17th District Circuit Court. Hayes represents taxpayer advocate John Nelson and Securus Technologies, another telecommunications service provider that bid on the project.

Board members approved the purchase in August and awarded the contract to Global Tel Link.

The plaintiffs claim they have emails showing that county leaders had back-door discussions with GTL, where things like pricing changes were negotiated and demonstrations given. The lawsuit stated that other bidders were not given the same opportunity.

Hayes also says GTL did not tell county board members that it was involved in a racketeering lawsuit, over a bribe and kickback scheme, with the state of Mississippi and its department of corrections.

“Winnebago County did not even follow its own purchasing regulations that cite fair and equal treatment of all bidders,” Hayes said. “You can clearly see that from the give-and-take between GTL and certain county employees.”

Hayes says Winnebago County now has an opportunity to respond to the lawsuit.

“We want the county to rebid the matter and do it the right way and give everybody the same chance as their own rules require,” Hayes said.