A man running for president of Cicero is taking his allegations of harassment and intimidation a step further by filing a lawsuit against the near west suburb’s leader, his re-election team and elected town officials.
In a lawsuit filed Monday in Cook County Circuit Court, challenger Juan Ochoa says Larry Dominick, town officials and the Cicero Voters Alliance “have launched an extensive crusade” of harassment and intimidation to stop him from running for office.
“Larry Dominick and the Cicero political committee is a criminal organization, and they are actively suppressing the vote, lying and intimidating voters,” said Ochoa’s attorney, Frank Avila. “We have filed a suit to bring justice and change to Cicero.”
In response, Ray Hanania, spokesman for Dominick and the town, said the lawsuit “is a form of political harassment” and the Ochoa party is “trying to intimidate us.”
Hanania also alleged Avila is the landlord for former town president and convicted felon Betty Loren-Maltese. Avila contended that he is not a candidate running for office and said who he rents to is “his own personal business.”
“I don’t think that when we point out that (Ochoa) has people who are members of the Latin King leadership .. we don’t consider that a form of intimidation,” Hanania said. “We think that is a serious issue.”
The allegations date back to October, when Ochoa says the organization circulated brochures that state Ochoa invited “active street gang members to Cicero to campaign on (his) behalf.” On Nov. 6, election day, the suit also contends a 55-year-old man was arrested by Cicero police for sexually threatening Dominick’s secretary and later labeled an active gang member and Ochoa volunteer.
The suit further states the organization, along with town officials and employees, have stalked Ochoa at his home and political headquarters in public vehicles. It also claims the organization has tried to deceive Cicero’s Hispanic community by putting another Latino candidate on the ballot.
Ochoa is asking for in excess of $1 million in damages.
“We want to make sure this process is fair,” Avila said. “Elections are not fair in Cicero.”