To the editor:
Everyone who read your story "Out of Their League," January 18, about the Cambodians of Uptown who lost their garden property in a tax sale must lament the tragic flow of events that brought about this occurrence.
One aspect of your story was not clear, however. Attorney Camillo F. Volini was called in after the Cambodian Association had already lost their property. Mr. Volini was engaged to help them file a petition with the Indemnity Fund pursuant to an agreement they had entered into with the tax buyer. At that point, it was a crisis situation in which the petition to the Indemnity Fund had to be filed right away. Attorney Volini filed that petition and assisted the association in paying their back taxes (also a condition of the agreement with the tax buyer), as well as paying the costs associated with the filing of the petition.
Mr. Volini referred the case to a Tax Indemnity Fund attorney who specialized in this work (a recommendation also made by Michael Elliott in your article). Mr. Volini conferred with this specialist, sent him the file for review and set up a motion to withdraw in court as attorney for the association and to substitute the new attorney. The Cambodian group met with this new attorney yet chose not to engage him (a fact revealed to Mr. Volini when he appeared to withdraw). Mr. Volini subsequently met with the Cambodian representatives to determine how they wanted to proceed. These representatives were aware of the voluntary dismissal prior to trial and its implications. Mr. Volini sent letters informing them of the status, a copy of the Dismissal Order and a copy of the letter from the tax buyer's lawyer terminating the agreement.
Mr. Volini died March 1, 2001. He donated countless hours of pro bono work to refugees and disadvantaged people who resided and worked in the Uptown community. At his funeral, he was honored by many who had been served by his generosity and expertise, and who loved and respected him. The Reader article did a disservice to his memory.
Alderman Mary Ann Smith expressed in your story her deep concern and willingness to help the Cambodian group in any way, as she has always done in matters affecting residents of our community.
It is our fervent hope that her continued efforts, as well as those of County Board commissioner Quigley, will result in the Cambodian group's possession of their property once more. Uptown has been blessed by the presence of these holy people and we wish them well.
The family of Camillo F. Volin