A Naperville landlord has been ordered to shut down the Naperville properties he’s been using as illegal boarding houses after pleading guilty to a charge of criminal contempt.
After more than five years of legal wrangling with the city of Naperville and a neighboring property owner, retired attorney Terry Gaca entered a guilty plea last week admitting he continued to operate a boarding house in violation of city code and filed false sworn statements in the case ..
Gaca owns single-family homes at 2401 Lisson Road, 202 Pepperidge Road, 72 Bunting Lane, 4 W. Bailey Road and 422 Carriage Hill Road, which he has used as boarding houses in which rooms were leased to individual renters.
Neighbors living near the homes have filed numerous complaints with the city for problems stemming from the properties, including loud parties, profanity-filled arguments and abysmal upkeep.
Lawyer Thomas Frederick, who lives adjacent to the Lisson Road house, filed the contempt case against Gaca. The plea agreement in the case, approved by Will County Circuit Judge David Carlson, applies not only to that house but the four others, all located in the DuPage County portion of the city.
Under the deal, Gaca also must serve 24 months’probation and is prohibited from leasing any homes in single-family apartment neighborhoods to more than two unrelated people.
Three of the properties are currently in compliance and two homes — those at 4 W. Bailey Road and 202 Pepperidge Road — must be in compliance by Sept. 1, the court order says.
Lori Jones, president of the Maplebrook Homeowners Association, which serves the subdivision where the Bailey and Bunting homes are located, said she was “very relieved” to hear about the plea agreement.
“A year ago, two years ago, I would have said nothing was ever going to change so it’s really nice to see some positive forward movement for sure,” she said.
Jones said she’d like see both houses sold. The home on Bunting Lane was listed for sale this spring and is under contract.
“(The Bailey Road property) not going to be an easy house to sell, being on the corner of the busy streets,” she said.
Naperville City Attorney Mike DiSanto, speaking in an email, said the city is optimistic the plea agreement will mark an end to the noncompliance problems and should bring relief to the neighbors.
Over the last five years, the city has tried to stop Gaca from renting out rooms to multiple tenants but was met with counter lawsuits and continued noncompliance from Gaca, court documents show.
Frustrated, Frederick decided to leave his law practice in order to pursue legal action against Gaca, using his status as neighbor to the Lisson Road property. The home in question was once Gaca’s full-time residence.
Naperville joined his lawsuit against Gaca in March 2021.
“Thomas Frederick has done an extraordinary job pursuing justice in this matter and assisting the city in holding Terry Gaca accountable,” DiSanto said in his email. properties in Naperville in compliance with city codes. ”
In the civil case, the city also will be going after Gaca for the fines he has amassed over the years.
Naperville assessed fines of at least $ 100 for each day Gaca unlawfully operated boarding houses at the five locations, which totals more than $ 766,500, court documents show.
Frederick is seeking $ 1 million for court costs and damages. The plea agreement is a “huge step,” he said.
“If (Gaca) violates any of the conditions, he can go to jail,” Frederick said.
The court order also requires Gaca to obtain approval from the court before filing any lawsuit or other legal action in state or federal court, any administrative or ethics complaint, or any claim against Frederick or witnesses in which Gaca is not represented by an attorney.
In addition, the order says Gaca is prohibited from harassing Frederick or witnesses and he must pay $ 10,000 toward Frederick’s legal fees to be distributed once the sale of 72 Bunting Lane is completed.
The contempt charges came about through Frederick’s quest to get a permanent injunction to stop Gaca from renting out the Lisson property as a boarding house.
Court documents show Gaca provided sworn statements from himself and two tenants in February 2020 claiming he and the two tenants were the only people residing there and therefore the judge should dismiss Frederick’s lawsuit.
In his statement, Gaca said he gave 30-day notices in January 2020 to three other tenants and they no longer lived at the home.
Frederick found that not to be the case.
In June 2020, Frederick obtained a sworn statement from one of the three men receiving a notice who said he’d lived in the home since April 2019 and was living in the home in February when the statements were filed with the court, documents show.
Frederick said after the Will County State’s Attorney Office declined to prosecute perjury charges against Gaca, he applied Illinois law that allowed him to prosecute for criminal contempt for violating the injunction and lying to the court.
Gaca has the right to an appeal, but he must file a written motion withdrawing his guilty plea within 30 days.