CHICAGO — Just hours after facing a judge at the Leighton Cook County Criminal Court building on felony charges, Ald. Proco “Joe” Moreno was hit with a lawsuit.
The suit was filed by the outgoing alderman’s ex-girlfriend, Liliya Hrabar — the woman at the center of the controversy.
In the suit, filed Thursday in Cook County Circuit Court, Hrabar alleges Moreno damaged her reputation and cost her many business clients when he got her arrested in the luxury car he loaned her after falsely reporting his 2016 Audi stolen.
Reached by phone, Hrabar, a 35-year-old insurance broker, told Block Club: “I didn’t plan to do anything, but it has been so much damage done to my reputation, my work and to my family.”
It all started Jan. 3, when Moreno loaned his leased Audi to Hrabar, according to the suit and allegations laid out by prosecutors during Moreno’s bond court hearing Wednesday.
That night, Moreno texted Hrabar and asked her not to smoke his car, according to prosecutors.
The next day, Moreno called 911 to report his car stolen, according to the suit. He also filed an insurance claim with State Farm, insisting the car was stolen. Weeks later, in a follow-up call to State Farm that was recorded, Moreno said he had left his key in the car, and must have either left his garage door open or someone scrambled a signal to open the overhead door automatically, according to prosecutors.
The insurance provider was prepared to pay him $30,000 to cover the loss of the car, according to prosecutors.
Even after reporting the car stolen, he made dinner plans with the woman, prosecutors said.
Hrabar insisted to her arresting officers that the Wicker Park alderman actually loaned her the car — and showed them text messages to prove it — but Moreno didn’t respond to police inquiries to check out her story, so they arrested her on a charge of criminal trespass to a vehicle, prosecutors said.
Hrabar “was surprised by the officers when they informed her that the vehicle had been reported stolen,” the suit said. She “was readily able to identify the vehicle owner and she was in possession of the vehicle’s keys.”
Prosecutors ended up dropping the charge against Hrabar. Police then opened an investigation into whether Moreno falsely reported his car stolen.
At a news conference outside of her lawyer’s office Thursday, Hrabar told reporters the whole ordeal was a “nightmare.”
“I have so many canceled policies because of (this),” Hrabar said. “People stopped trusting me. To be honest, I changed my hair color to dark because I thought people would not recognize me.”
Moreno was arrested about four months after news of the false police report broke. In that time, Moreno was defeated by alderman-elect Daniel La Spata in the general election. His term ends Monday.
Speaking to reporters at Thursday’s news conference, Hrabar said Moreno insisted he would “explain everything” after the election, though that information was not included in the defamation suit.
“He was like, ‘You know what, let me go through election. I will explain everything to you,’” Hrabar told reporters. “’I will fix everything. I will make everything work perfect, no worries, no worries.’”
Moreno, 46, was released from jail on his own recognizance Wednesday by Judge John Fitzgerald Lyke Jr. In announcing bail, the judge said if allegations are true it was a “terrible lapse in judgment.” But the judge noted Moreno is alleged to have committed a non-violent crime.
An attempt to reach Moreno’s attorney, Camilo Oceguera with D&O Law Group, was not immediately successful Thursday.
Read the lawsuit below: