From PW: Complaints about the Catholic Church taking money and land from two elderly Christian ladies

I have received quite a few complaints about the above case. Of course it involves guardianship and probate and a troubled courtroom. Judge Curtis Lane threatened the two elderly Christian defendants with jail no less than three times for no apparent reason found on the transcripts.

Then, the case went to a jury trial and while all the jurors said they had never been arrested, it turned out according to preliminary reports several jurors in fact had been arrested for misdeameanors such as bad checks and theft and deception.

All of the defendant’s discovery was blocked no less than three times by Judge Curtis L Lane. The victim, Fred Stegall, while obviously incompetent and unable to participate in this litigation, was required to take a deposition where it was clear he was incompetent. He could not recognize one attorney who he had just seen a couple months before, he did not know that the office had moved, he started talking about World War II for no reason and how he did not want to be forced to re enlist. He had no idea where he was or what was going on, but abusive attorneys continued the deposition.

The jury only deliberated for 25 minutes before they found for the Plaintiffs, but apparently they spent most of that time laughing and cracking jokes, according to witnesses sitting right outside the jury room.

The result of this (unfair and unjust) litigation is that the Catholic Church for some reason will gain over 200 acres of farmland and timberland. Since when does a church litigate to obtain land in an estate. They were clearly the aggressors and the plaintiffs.

Judge Curtis L Lane always favored them and their co conspirator, the Galesburg Gun Club.

One person has answered my requests for an explanation of all of this, but after showing him how the case was so very one sided and strange, he declined to comment further. Since he has not agreed to the release of his name, I will keep it confidential for now.

Please read on for the letters that I am sending out to find out what actually is going on with this case.

The behavior of Judge Curtis L Lane is especially egregious. He quashed all the defendants discovery, he quashed all their discovery, witnesses were limited, and we are waiting for the transcripts. The cases are up on appeal.

This is a copy of the letter to the Bishop asking why the Catholic Church is doing this to two elderly Christian ladies.

I hope they all come to Jesus and stop this horrible, horrible litigation. We already have too many false judgements against innocent people in probate.

Thank you for your consideration:


5534 N. Milwaukee Ave JoAnne Denison, Executive Director
Chicago, IL 60630 Cell Phone 773-255-7608
ph 312-553-1300
fax 773-423-4455
A social Justice Services NFP since 2014

Bishop Louis Tylka
419 NE Madison Ave
Peoria,IL 61603

March 10, 2023

RE: Knox County Case No. 22 PR 12 and 21 MR 21 –Estate of Fred Stegall

Dear Bishop Louis Tylka ;

I am the Executive Director of Justice 4 Every1, an Illinois Not for Profit. I run and manage blogs ( and regarding corrupt and abusive guardianships in Chicago and in Illinois and nationwide. There are more than 1600 posts on those blogs about corruption in the courts and horrific abuse of the elderly in Guardianship and then their Estates are looted by attorneys and others in decedent’s estates and these blogs are extremely popular with over 300 hits per day.

We are currently seeking information on court corruption in Knox County and in particular in the above cases which involves the Fred Stegall Estate. Mr. Stegall unfortunately passed away in January 2022, leaving over 200 acres of farm and timberland, to Tonny and Penny Williamson, two elderly Christian women who cared for Fred Stegall during his final year and spent at least $115,000 to care for him, because his court appointed guardian Curtis Ford and his Guardian ad Litem appointed by Judge Radmussen refused to give Fred Stegall a dime in living expenses for over one year– no money for food, clothing and utilities, despite the fact that Fred Stegall had some $400,000+ in his bank accounts. Instead, over $60,000 went to court appointed lawyers to drain his estate. This, unfortunately is not uncommon in Probate, and in particular, Guardianship cases where the motto is: target, narcotize to guardianize, drain the estate, and when the money runs out, narcotize the elderly person to death and quickly bury the victim to destroy all traces of evidence the person was abused and drugged.

Anyone over age 50 can fall a victim to our nation’s thousands of probate courts. It is estimated that at any time, some 1.5 million elderly and disabled persons are locked into expensive guardianship proceedings where Estates are billed at rates from $300 to $400+ per hour, which typically drains the Estate quickly and the victim is typically left penniless and on medicaid and food stamps. In one guardianship case in Cook County, Lorraine Phillips, she was in a guardianship for 5 years and attorneys Franciszkowicz and David Martin billed her $4 million estate over $1 million in attorney’s fees. The Illinois appellate court apparently thought this was okay, because they never overturned those excessive attorneys fees.

In Mr. Stegall’s case, the Guardian and court appointed Guardian ad Litem (both Illinois licensed attorneys) never told Mr. Stegall’s friends he had been taken to a nursing home. All Mr. Stegall’s friends had to figure out where he was and how he had been taken when they abruptly found him missing one day. Curtis Ford and Patrick Egan would not allow Penny or Tonny to visit Mr. Stegall while he was in the hospital for 10 days prior to Curtis Ford moving him to a nursing home where he lived for about a week. Ford and Egan instructed hospital staff to not give Penny or Tonny Williamson any information about Mr. Stegall and they could not visit with their dear friend. The Williamson’s called St. Mary’s every day. It was Tonny who had called for an ambulance the morning after January 1, 2022 after finding Mr. Stegall laying on the floor beside his bed. She took Fred to the ER and stayed with him until he was admitted to the hospital, but then Mr. Ford and Mr. Egan would not let her see her dear friend or obtain any information regarding his condition.

But with good detective work and assistance of the angels, on January 16, 2022,Penny and Tonny located Fred Stegall in a nursing home in the quad cities. Only Tonny and Penny came to the nursing home to visit with Fred.

The Fred Stegall cases have been rocked with controversy and terrible problems.

And as a reporter for these blogs I personally have a number of questions:

  1. Why is the Diocese of Peoria suing the Williamsons for their dear friend’s farm and timber land? When did churches start suing people to take their land? I personally have been involved with Christian churches for decades and I have never heard of a Christian Church suing an Estate, getting involved in any dispute in an Estate and trying to take farm and timberland from their friends and neighbors.
  2. Why did the court and Judge Curtis Lane block all discovery (three times) as requested by the Williamsons, rush quickly to trial, and why did attorneys Paul Mangieri and John W. Robertson file suit against the Williamsons over this farmland when Fred Stegall made it repeatedly known that he did not want to sue the Williamsons and that James Blake was not his attorney and had never been his attorney?
  3. Why did Father Brokaw take the witness stand and tell the following lies?

a. that Fred attended weekly mass without fail (when Fred did not attend weekly mass all the time, that he depended upon someone driving him since fall of 2020, and b) then his church, Abingdon Church was closed for approximately six months during Covid, and then c) Brokaw was not even the main pastor there at the time in question, so how would he know?) Prior to July, 2020 Brokaw was not the priest for Fred Stegall and rarely if ever saw him. All good questions.

  1. Why is attorney John Robertson standing in the court hallways and telling witnesses that the Williamsons are “crooks and scam artists?” When in fact these are good, kind Christian ladies who took care of 95 year old Fred Stegall for over a year in his final days and spent over $115,000 on his care when the Guardian ad Litem and Guardian of the Person and court would not give him a dime for living expenses and necessaries?
  2. Why did Brokaw provide false testimony to the court that the Williamsons prevented him from giving Fred Stegall last rites when in fact they had no control over that. At the time of his death Fred was in a Guardianship and only his Guardian ad Litem and court appointed Guardian (Curtis Ford and Patrick Egan) who could have done that. The Williamsons actually drove Fred to Catholic Church numerous times when he was too frail to drive himself.
  3. Why was Brokaw shaking his head “no” during witness testimony when he either knew or should have known that no one in the courtroom is allowed to do that as in ever. That was a horrible thing to do. The jury clearly saw his actions. Who told him that can do that or should do that. Brokaw had one of the highest honors of sitting at counsel table during a trial and he abused that honor. He should promptly apologize to the court, the litigants and the jury.

But the bigger question is why is the Catholic Church and the Diocese of Peoria getting involved in Estates to try to take land from citizens via contested and expensive probate proceedings.

If you have any information on this case and why the proceedings are so very strange and troublesome I would greatly appreciate hearing from you. I am a reporter for two popular blogs on court corruption and you may provide me with statements “off record” and I would keep everything in confidence. (Illinois does in fact have a “reporter’s privilege law”)

It’s time to clean up the court system in Illinois, and I and other concerned citizens would greatly appreciate your help in doing so.

Remember that the greatest cure for corruption is always sunshine which is a tremendous cure for corruption.

If you have any information about this case or Judge Lane or Attorneys Paul Mangieri or John Robertson, I would greatly appreciate your bringing this information to my attention so that justice may be done. You are welcome to call, fax or email me with the information and it will be kept in confidence. If you call me, please email or text me first so I know you are a real person and not a robo call or spammer.

And please pray for these dear, kind ladies that justice may be done. Thank you.


Joanne Denison
Executive Director,
Justice 4 Every1, NFP
Blogger and dedicated to accountability in the courts

cc: Senate Committee on the Judiciary; Senate Special Committee on Aging

fn (735 ILCS 5/8-901)
§ 8-901. Source of information. No court may compel any person to disclose the source of any
information obtained by a reporter except as provided in Part 9 of Article VIII of this Act.


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