The April 4 election for village trustee in North Riverside may be the first run for elective office for Jose Del Angel, but it’s not his first foray into local government.
For about a decade, Del Angel worked for the town of Cicero, working his way up the organizational ladder from entry-level clerical positions to director of the town’s water department.
Del Angel’s days working in Cicero did not surface during a sit-down interview with the candidate in late January, but emerged as the Landmark did further reporting. Also in late January, an anonymous letter made its way to North Riverside homes, referencing a 2007 federal civil lawsuit accusing Del Angel of sexual harassment of a subordinate Cicero employee.
The town of Cicero settled that lawsuit, which was filed in 2007, for an unknown amount of money in 2009. Del Angel admitted no wrongdoing, and in an interview last week with the Landmark he denied the allegations.
“Sexual misconduct is a terrible thing, just like being accused of a crime you didn’t commit is a terrible thing, like the accusation is proof enough of your guilt,” Del Angel said. “I believe that false accusations are also forms of sexual misconduct.
“I emphatically deny the allegations made in the lawsuit, and I believe that the residents and people who know me are the best judge of character.”
A 2009 Chicago Tribune article reporting the settlement of the lawsuit, stated that Del Angel, who had been the town’s parking enforcement supervisor, had been suspended from work for two days and sent to sensitivity training “for engaging in consensual sexual banter” with the woman.
Asked about the disciplinary action taken by the town, Del Angel said Cicero had no policy in place for handling those kinds of complaints.
By the time the lawsuit against Del Angel was filed in 2007, Cicero had settled multiple lawsuits and had paid out millions of dollars to people filing sexual harassment lawsuits against town officials.
A spokesman for the town of Cicero at that time, Dan Proft, told the Tribune that people filed lawsuits against Cicero officials because it was seen as an easy payday.
“There’s a belief that you can get paid out by filing a lawsuit, no matter how frivolous,” Proft told the Tribune in 2008.
Del Angel said of the town’s decision to discipline him, “I still to this day do not know what exactly policy I violated. It’s my belief there was no policy in reference to that.”
Following the lawsuit against him, Del Angel was promoted to water department director. Del Angel said he resigned from the position and left the town of Cicero following the resolution of the lawsuit.
“I had a lot of trouble with that lawsuit,” Del Angel said. “It affected my family, and it affected me personally.”
Del Angel was 20 years old when he was first hired during the administration of Cicero President Betty Loren Maltese in 1998 as a Spanish-language interpreter for the police department.
By 2004, after Loren Maltese had been convicted of federal corruption charges, Del Angel was working as the town’s towing coordinator during the tenure of President Ramiro Gonzalez.
Laid off along with several other town employees in 2004, Del Angel worked as a precinct captain for Gonzalez’s opponent in the 2005 election for town president, Larry Dominick, a retired Cicero police officer Del Angel got to know while working as towing coordinator.
After Dominick’s election in 2005, he hired Del Angel to handle constituent services and later made him supervisor of the town’s parking enforcement division.
Del Angel, 45, acknowledged that his opponents in the 2023 election would seek to use his Cicero ties and the lawsuit, in particular, against him during the campaign, but said he would not be a political punching bag for them.
“There’s a saying in Spanish — there’s people in this campaign that also have a long tail that can be stepped on,” Del Angel said.
During the 2021 election for North Riverside mayor, Marybelle Mandel came under fire in connection to her husband’s 2000 federal conviction for making false statements to a financial institution.
David Mandel appealed the decision, but the conviction was upheld. In his ruling, an appellate court judge implicated Marybelle Mandel in her husband’s scheme, although she was never charged with a crime.
Last year, Marybelle Mandel filed a lawsuit in Cook County Circuit Court against seven people, claiming they had defamed her in statements made in public meetings, on social media and privately while campaigning door-to-door.
One of those sued was Nicholas Tricoci, who is running for trustee against Mandel this spring. The lawsuit is still pending.
“It’s important for me to be transparent with the people, because these sideshows only distract and it’s not fair to the residents,” Del Angel said. “The residents would like to focus on issues that affect them.”