Illinois corruption watch, June 2014

Brian Costin

Open government and government transparency expert

Brian Costin

Anthony Trania

Anthony Trania is a policy research intern at the Illinois Policy Institute specializing in government transparency and accountability. He recently graduated from Saint Louis University.

July 9, 2014

Illinois corruption watch, June 2014

Unfortunately for taxpayers, June was a groundbreaking month for corruption in Illinois. In June alone, there were reports of 85 corruption-related stories in the state. Some of the record-breaking highlights include the following: For the first time in 33 years, the Illinois Legislative Audit Commission exercised its subpoena powers in the issuance of a subpoena...

Unfortunately for taxpayers, June was a groundbreaking month for corruption in Illinois. In June alone, there were reports of 85 corruption-related stories in the state. Some of the record-breaking highlights include the following:

For the first time in 33 years, the Illinois Legislative Audit Commission exercised its subpoena powers in the issuance of a subpoena regarding Gov. Pat Quinn’s controversial anti-violence program. That’s on top of a separate federal subpoena for the same program. Auditor General William Holland’s office revealed that the state spent nearly a half a million dollars on a flawed study of the anti-violence program while rejecting the opportunity to receive a more rigorous study for free.

The “Dixmoor Five” were awarded the largest wrongful conviction settlement, $40 million, in Illinois history. In 1991, as young teenagers, they gave false confessions to the rape and murder of 14-year-old Cateresa Matthews. After being physically abused and threatened by interrogators. DNA evidence later exonerated them.

Other major stories this month included State Rep. Derrick Smith being convicted of accepting a $7,000 bribe, the head of the Illinois Department of Transportation resigning following patronage allegations, Sen. Mark Kirk presenting evidence of major fraud at Hines Veterans Affairs Hospital involving falsifying of wait-time data, and revelations that political insiders received multi-million-dollar contracts to promote ObamaCare in Illinois.

85. June 30, 2014

Chicago Sun-Times: IDOT chief resigns after patronage questions raised

The head of the Illinois Department of Transportation resigned Monday following questions about patronage hiring at the agency.

Ann Schneider’s resignation comes after longtime anti-patronage crusader Michael Shakman called for a federal judge to order an investigation into government hiring following a Better Government Association investigation that revealed Schneider’s stepdaughter had been put on the payroll and promoted at the agency.

Schneider was appointed by Quinn in 2011 to head up IDOT. The resignation could lessen a political headache for Gov. Pat Quinn during an election year.

84. June 30, 2014

Chicago Tribune: Prosecutors: Correctional officer got $250 each time he smuggled contraband

A Cook County correctional officer pocketed bribes of up to $250 each time he smuggled marijuana, tobacco, shower products and other contraband to inmates at the West Side jail, prosecutors said today.

An inmate and his girlfriend were also charged with bribery.

Jermaine Hoskins, 37, who worked at the jail for more than two years, was arrested Friday after arriving at work. He was charged with official misconduct and bringing contraband into the jail.

In court this afternoon, Assistant State’s Attorney Lorraine Scaduto said Hoskins, a former postal service and Homeland Security worker, told investigators “he saw an opportunity and took it” and used the payoffs to help pay his bills.

83. June 30, 2014

Chicago Tribune: Harvey, comptroller part ways after fraud lawsuit

Days after being accused in a lawsuit of working together to defraud investors, Harvey and its comptroller have split – with each offering a different explanation of what happened.

Harvey spokesman Sean Howard said comptroller Joseph Letke was fired this afternoon, while Letke’s firm released a letter saying it quit after the town ignored its advice and treated the firm poorly.

Letke’s departure came five days after the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filed an unusual lawsuit that said Harvey and Letke couldn’t be trusted to woo borrowers because of fraud committed in a past borrowing deal. That failed development deal, exposed by the Tribune last year, has left taxpayers on the hook for as much as $20 million in loan payments for a hotel sitting half-gutted and in foreclosure.

82. June 30, 2014

Chicago Sun-Times: Former ISU president found guilty, gets probation

Illinois State University’s former president was convicted of disorderly conduct and sentenced to probation Monday for his actions during a confrontation with the school’s head groundskeeper last year.

McLean County Judge Michael Stroh sentenced Timothy Flanagan to a year of court supervision, which is a form of probation, and ordered him to perform 30 hours of community service and pay a $300 fine.

Prosecutors said that on Dec. 5, Flanagan screamed at Patrick Murphy, the school’s grounds superintendent, at close range outside the president’s on-campus home in a way that alarmed Murphy. Murphy was fired a short time later but has since been rehired.

81. June 30, 2014

Chicago Tribune: Lake County sheriff reviewing allegation that top officer threatened deputies

Lake County Sheriff Mark Curran’s office is reviewing a complaint alleging that one of his top officers threatened deputies and command staff during a meeting.

A letter fellow officers sent to the county’s human resources department accuses the high-ranking officer of making the comments during roll call June 18 as he mentioned the firing of a deputy who’d been charged with soliciting a sex act. The officer told those present that changes were coming to the department, according to a copy of the letter obtained by the Tribune.

The letter quotes him as saying, “If you don’t agree with the changes coming, you can leave…if you have a problem with this you can meet me in the parking lot when I’m done and we can have a one on one conversation.”

80. June 30, 2014

Chicago Sun-Times: Clerk Dorothy Brown’s campaign paid her husband $90,000

Before he was paid more than $146,000 for work on Gov. Pat Quinn’s scandal-plagued anti-violence initiative, Benton Cook III says he spent four years as a “media production director” for political candidates.

His biggest client, as it turns out, was his wife, Cook County Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown, records show.

Brown’s campaign fund paid the video production company based at her husband’s then-South Side home nearly $90,000 over a four-year period ending in 2010, according to Illinois State Board of Elections records. The business, Gideon Video Productions, doesn’t appear to have been licensed with the state of Illinois, the city of Chicago or Cook County.

79. June 29, 2014

State Journal-Register: Legislative watchdog steps down

A former state’s attorney, legislator and appellate court justice, Tom Homer is ending a decade-long tenure this month as the first watchdog of the Illinois General Assembly — proud of helping move the state into modern ethics reforms but frustrated by handcuffs placed on his office and its ability to investigate and punish wrongdoing.

Since he took the legislature’s inspector general job in 2004, Homer has fielded 163 formal complaints, referring 11 to federal or state law enforcement authorities. Some of those ended in criminal convictions, although the law doesn’t allow him to talk about specific cases.

Twice in recent years, Homer, 67, has published open letters to the legislature suggesting tougher ethics rules.

He believes it should be illegal for legislators to vote on matters in which they have conflicts of interest. He wants more descriptive financial disclosures, reporting of interventions lawmakers make on behalf of constituents, penalties beyond just fines for legislators — such as censure or reprimand — and public reporting of an officeholder’s punishment.

78. June 27, 2014

Chicago Sun-Times: A fine surprise: City may owe millions in refunds

Chicago taxpayers could be on the hook to refund millions of dollars in fines levied by administrative hearing officers over the years because the city did not require corporate defendants to be represented by licensed attorneys.

The surprise liability stems from a May 20 Illinois Appellate Court ruling in a case filed by Stone Street Partners, a limited liability corporation that owned Gold Coast real estate.

A caretaker had appeared before an administrative hearing officer to contest a 1999 building code violation, triggering a $1,000 judgment.

Eleven years later, the partners got notice of a default judgment and moved to vacate it on grounds they had not been properly served and that the city had allowed the corporation to be represented by a person who was not authorized to practice law.

77. June 27, 2014

Chicago Tribune: Firm with history of fraud gets $64 million tollway contract

The Illinois Tollway on Thursday awarded a $64 million construction contract to a New York-based firm that admitted committing fraud and paid a $7.5 million penalty in connection with an alleged minority hiring scheme in that city.

Judlau Contracting Inc.’s bid was the lowest of four received by the Tollway for construction of new interchange ramps at Interstate 290 and Thorndale Avenue in Itasca.

Judlau’s contract with the Tollway, and the penalty settlement, were first reported by the Tribune Saturday.

76. June 27, 2014

Chicago Tribune: Ex-cop admitted to killing women, hiding bodies in suitcases

The former police officer charged in connection with two women’s bodies found in suitcases near Lake Geneva has admitted meeting both women online and killing them during their first meetings, according to a criminal complaint.

Steven M. Zelich, 52, has so far been charged with two felonies for hiding the women’s bodies in suitcases and tossing them along a highway during the first week of June. He has not been charged with homicide, despite his admissions, and is to make his first court appearance today, officials said.

75. June 26, 2014

Better Government Association: You’re under arrest

Around 30 people showed up at a Clark County Park District Board meeting in May, hoping to openly speak about recent park-related controversies. After most sat through a two and a half hour closed session, the board returned to open session only to inform the crowd that they would not be allowed to speak to board members.

That’s when John Kraft, a member of a local watchdog group, sprang into action. Rising to his feet, Kraft informed the entire board that he was placing them under citizen’s arrest for violating the Illinois Open Meetings Act; specifically the provision that ensures the public can address their elected representatives at an official meeting.

“It was the way they said ‘no’,” that led him to take the unusual police action, said Kraft, adding that the board again refused to entertain public comments even after he explained they were in violation of the law.

74. June 26, 2014

Fox 32: New questions arise about Rauner daughter admission

New questions are being raised about the admission of a Republican governor candidate’s daughter into an elite Chicago public school.

One of Bruce Rauner’s six children was initially rejected in 2008 to Walter Payton College Prep. Rauner says she had top-notch grades, but didn’t meet an attendance requirement because of illness. She later got in. The Rauner Family Foundation later gave $250,000 to a school initiative.

73. June 26, 2014

Chicago Sun-Times: Judge blasts sheriff’s office for negligence in teen rape case

A federal judge this week blasted Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart’s office, saying correctional officers’ “deliberate indifference” led to the sexual assault of a 16-year-old defendant mistakenly housed with adult inmates in 2008.

Even though the youth told sheriff’s personnel at least five times that he was under 17 — and therefore should have been in a juvenile lockup — he remained in the Cook County Jail for three days, U.S. District Court Judge Amy St. Eve wrote this week.

“Under the circumstances, the sheriff’s officers’ deliberate indifference led directly to the predictable consequence that the adult detainees physically harmed and raped the plaintiff,” St. Eve. wrote in a ruling rejecting the sheriff’s office’s attempts to have a lawsuit in the case thrown out.

72. June 25, 2014

Chicago Sun-Times: Torture panel must look beyond Burge

The easiest thing to do with the Jaime Hauad case would be to quietly sweep it under the rug.

After all, Hauad was convicted 15 years ago of killing two Maniac Latin Disciples outside an Avondale bar and sentenced to life without parole. A witness and a surviving victim picked out Hauad in a photo lineup as someone they saw at the murder scene. The reliability of his memory has been questioned because in 2012 he forgot he had testified at 1998 hearing on a motion to suppress.

And yet, last week the Illinois Torture Inquiry and Relief Commission came to a disturbing conclusion: There’s strong evidence that police tortured Hauad while he was in custody and some evidence that he may be entirely innocent.

But there’s an unfortunate catch. No matter how much the commission’s members worry Hauad’s case might be a miscarriage of justice, they can’t do anything about it. As interpreted by judicial rulings, the commission is charged with investigating only claims of torture by former Chicago Police Cmdr. Jon Burge and detectives who worked under him. In this case, one of the cops who Hauad said beat him was Joseph Miedzianowksi, who went on to be labeled the most corrupt cop in Chicago history and who is serving a life sentence. The commission has no authority to investigate claims of torture by Miedzianowksi.

71. June 25, 2014

Chicago Sun-Times: SEC accuses City of Harvey, comptroller of fraud

Between 2008 and 2010, Letke and his firms made $1.627 million to serve as Harvey’s comptroller, to do bookkeeping and to give financial advice, authorities said.

But that’s not all. Now Letke is accused of pocketing another $269,000 in “undisclosed payments” from the developer of a Holiday Inn Hotel in the south suburb. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission slapped Letke — and the City of Harvey itself — with fraud charges in a complaint announced Wednesday.

Letke, 55, of Frankfort, and the city used at least $1.7 million in bond proceeds from the hotel project to improperly pay for the basic costs of running the city like making payroll, according to the SEC.

Others appear to have profited from the alleged scheme, as well. For example, the SEC said $100,000 in bond-related cash made its way in 2009 to an unidentified woman who “had no apparent connection” to the hotel project. It allegedly did so with help from Letke and “another Harvey official.”

70. June 25, 2014

Chicago Sun-Times: Day care got NRI cash to help ex-inmates; critic calls ‘fraud’

Thousands of state anti-violence grant dollars from Gov. Pat Quinn’s scandal-tainted Neighborhood Recovery Initiative went to a south suburban nonprofit to help re-integrate freed teen and young adult prison inmates back into society.

It was a noble idea except for one thing.

The nonprofit that the state paid with anti-violence grant money to handle re-entry services in Thornton Township actually was operating out of a day care center in south suburban Dixmoor.

On top of that, it was later learned, there was really no re-entry program at all — nor any proof that the organization, Project Hope, Inc., did anything for the $15,770 it received from Quinn’s administration to perform re-entry services, state records show.

69. June 25, 2014

Chicago Tribune: Lawyer in $40 million Dixmoor 5 case: False confessions ‘An epidemic’

As attorneys on Wednesday hailed a record settlement for the so-called Dixmoor Five, one of the wrongfully convicted men was checking out a brick house on a spacious lot in one of Chicago’s southernmost suburbs.

Robert Taylor liked the big garage, trees and safe feel to the neighborhood for his family, including his 2-year-old son.

Taylor, 36, isn’t sure of how big his share of the $40 million settlement with the Illinois State Police will be, but he has no doubt it will change his life.

“Frankly, you know, the money that’s being paid out is almost beside the point,” said Peter Neufeld, a New York City attorney and co-director of the Innocence Project who is representing Jonathan Barr, one of the Dixmoor Five. “What you have here in Cook County is an epidemic. An epidemic of false confessions of juveniles, primarily people of color.”

The five were teens when they were arrested for the November 1991 murder of Cateresa Matthews and were given lengthy prison sentences.

68. June 24, 2014

Crain’s Chicago Business: The garbage clout list: Free pickup for thousands

You might call it a truly stinky clout list, one that provides a much nicer perk than a mere free garbage cart.

In a town where lots of people gets lots of favors at the public’s expense, thousands of nonprofit groups and small apartment buildings improperly have been getting free city garbage service in the past decade, costing taxpayers more than $6.5 million a year, Chicago Inspector General Joe Ferguson charged today.

A report released by the inspector general found that the city’s Department of Streets and Sanitation provided free garbage pickup to at least 1,393 properties, many of them owned by churches, schools and other charities, and at least a few occupied by aldermanic ward offices. No law authorizes the free service, Mr. Ferguson said in his report.

67. June 24, 2014

Chicago Sun-Times: $1.5 million in settlements tied to alleged city negligence

On Tuesday, the City Council’s Finance Committee approved the settlement to Brian Baker and his full guardian without a word of explanation or debate. That sets the stage for final sign-off by the full Council on Wednesday.

The accident that forever altered Baker’s life occurred at 1:45 a.m. on June 9, 2009 at the corner of Damen and Waubansia.

Baker, who had just graduated from Columbia College with a degree in sports marketing, was riding his bike after a night out drinking when he collided with the barricade set up to mark a collapsed sewer catch basin.

First Deputy Corporation Counsel Leslie Darling said there were a “number of issues that left the city exposed” to damages. “The barricade’s light was not functional. The barricade was actually in the hole, instead of in front it [where] a bicyclist would be able to see and react to it,” Darling said.

“The city had two months notice of the condition and had scheduled repairs, but there was concern that a jury could find the city had not taken enough precaution to ensure public safety.”

66. June 24, 2014

Chicago Sun-Times: Legislative panel to subpoena key figures in Quinn program

A legislative panel on Monday voted to issue a series of subpoenas to Gov. Pat Quinn’s inner circle — including his onetime chief of staff and two cabinet members — as an inquiry into a derelict anti-violence program that he launched broadens.

A subcommittee of the Legislative Audit Commission took two votes, both 4-0, in favor of sending subpoenas to a total of seven top-tier Quinn administration associates. Those subpoenas order their testimony in the midst of a high stakes, highly volatile re-election campaign.

It was the first time in 33 years that the commission exercised its subpoena powers, lawmakers said.


Though any reader of our Corruption Watch series would suggest differently, a federal judge decided that Chicago city-worker hiring needs less, not more, supervision. On June 16, a federal judge ended a nine-year run of federal oversight of Chicago municipal hiring; oversight which was originally prompted after decades of “clout” hiring in the city.

As if on cue, over at the Illinois Department of Transportation, or IDOT, Secretary Ann Schneider is under scrutiny for potentially illegal patronage hiring involving her stepdaughter, Ashley Carpenter.

Carpenter was hired in 2006 when Schneider was IDOT’s director of finance and promoted to a full-time “staff assistant” in 2007. Carpenter said she never applied or interviewed for the full-time position, and Freedom of Information Act documents acquired by the Better Government Association reveal she was hired using the “Rutan-exempt” process, which allows subjective factors such as politics to be considered in hiring.

So while the federal government is removing itself from overseeing patronage hiring in Chicago, the practice seems to persist around the state. In fact, it’s getting worse. Old habits die hard.

With that, Illinois Policy has rounded up corruption stories from around the state for this week. From the aforementioned patronage hiring to political insiders receiving multimillion-dollar contracts to promote the Affordable Care Act, we’ve tracked 66 corruption-related stories in June alone.


66. June 23, 2014

Chicago Sun-Times: Navy Pier’s private operator exempt from public records law

Chicago’s Navy Pier — touted as the biggest tourist attraction in Illinois — has long been a patronage haven where political insiders turned for jobs and lucrative deals to sell everything from expensive meals to gumballs.

Who was cashing in used to be a matter of public record. It no longer is, since the state of Illinois and City Hall turned over operation of the government-owned pier to a private, not-for-profit group three years ago for $1-a-year rent.

Navy Pier Inc. doesn’t have to explain how it’s spending $115 million in government bonds that were sold to pay for a face-lift for the 98-year-old pier, either.

Despite Reilly’s assertion, former Mayor Richard M. Daley’s handprints are all over Navy Pier Inc. Documents NPI filed with the Internal Revenue Service show the not-or-profit has four employees making higher pay than Gov. Pat Quinn, who appoints half the members of the McPier board.

65. June 21, 2014

Chicago Sun-Times: State paid UIC $498,355 for subpar study

The state spent almost half a million dollars on a flawed study of Gov. Pat Quinn’s now-defunct anti-violence program – the Neighborhood Recovery Initiative – after officials rejected a more rigorous evaluation that would have been free, auditors say.

The $498,351 study by the University of Illinois at Chicago didn’t even examine whether the program helped reduce violence, according to Auditor General William Holland’s office.

State Rep. David Reis, R-Willow Hill, said the study leaves taxpayers in the dark about whether the $54.5 million program made an impact in some of the most dangerous neighborhoods in the Chicago area.

64. June 21, 2014

Chicago Tribune: Tollway poised to award contract to firm that admitted hiring fraud

The Illinois Tollway is poised to award a hefty construction contract to a New York-based firm that admitted committing fraud in connection with minority hiring for a tunnel project in that city, the Tribune has learned.

Judlau Contracting Inc.’s $64 million bid was the lowest of four received by the Tollway for construction of new interchange ramps at Interstate 290 and Thorndale Avenue in Itasca.

The interchange is the biggest chunk of work so far in the Tollway’s $3.4 billion reconstruction and widening of the Elgin-O’Hare Expressway, which will be converted into a toll road. Final approval of the Judlau deal is on the agenda when the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority board meets Thursday.

63. June 20, 2014

Chicago Sun-Times: City ethics chair: Loophole could nix oversight of campaign funds

The City Council’s handpicked inspector general is appealing for more money, manpower and authority with an assist from Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s revamped Board of Ethics.

In a letter to aldermen attached to Legislative Inspector General Faisal Khan’s semi-annual report, Board of Ethics Chairman Stephen W. Beard warns that, unless the City Council moves immediately to close a legislative loophole, “Chicago will head into a municipal election year with no oversight of contributions made to aldermen or their challengers.”

62. June 20, 2014

Chicago Sun-Times: Ex-state higher education leader’s departure ‘misleading’

A former head of the Illinois Board of Higher Education racked up $6,500 in extra car rental fees and walked away from his post with $32,000 beyond his contract and a “misleading” news release on his departure, according to reports released Friday by the state’s Executive Inspector General Ricardo Meza.

George W. Reid was forced to resign from the board in 2012 for misusing his state-owned vehicle, among other things, but the board sent out a news release indicating he had stepped down for personal reasons.

The board had hired Reid for $193,000 a year, knowing he’d had his contract voided from Kentucky State University after he used university money there to pay for personal items, including a trailer hitch for his boat and a cat scratching post.

61. June 20, 2014

WUIS: IBHE leader “abused public resources,” got $48K

A just-released investigation by Illinois’ Inspector General’s office found that the former head of the state board of higher education abused public resources and wasted state funds, among other findings.

When the State Board of Higher Education announced in 2012 Dr. George Reid was stepping down as its director after only 18 months, a press release stated that it was for “personal reasons.” Reid supposedly wanted more time with his family.

In fact, the Office of Executive Inspector General found that he had been forced to resign, or face getting fired.

60. June 20, 2014

Chicago Tribune: Rahm Emanuel accepts nearly $60K in donations from Chicago restaurant group

Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel has taken more than $59,000 in campaign donations from restaurant group Lettuce Entertain You, Enterprises (LEYE), reports the Chicago Tribune, and then helped LEYE land a deal inside Chicago’s O’Hare airport. In March, Obama’s former Chief of Staff attended a fundraiser hosted at a restaurant owned by Lettuce Entertain You and he received around $26,000 from the restaurant group’s founder Richard Melman and Melman’s family. The donations were given in five $5,300 parts because that is the maximum an individual can give under the state law. The other donations to the mayor’s re-election fund were given by “people and restaurants tied to Lettuce Entertain You.”

A week after receiving the donations from LEYE, Emanuel attended a re-opening ceremony for the terminal at Chicago’s O’Hare airport which features many restaurants from LEYE.

59. June 20, 2014

State Journal-Register: Event honoring Quinn raises ‘pay to play’ questions

A lobbying firm with close ties to a key subcontractor hired to promote the nation’s health care law in Illinois is hosting a fundraiser for one of Gov. Pat Quinn’s top political donors, raising questions about “pay to play” politics amid the state’s highly competitive governor’s race.

The Roosevelt Group is hosting a breakfast fundraiser Tuesday for the Democratic Governors Association “honoring Pat Quinn,” according to an invitation sent out last week that lists suggested sponsorship levels of between $20,000 and $2,500. The Democratic Governors Association formed a political action committee last fall to support Quinn’s re-election and has contributed $260,000 to it so far this year. In 2010, the group gave about $1.8 million to Quinn — making it the Chicago Democrat’s second-biggest donor, according to the National Institute on Money in State Politics.

Roosevelt Group was co-founded by its two partners, Mike Noonan and Victor Reyes. A third person, Maze Jackson, is a lobbyist for the company. The three own Compass Public Affairs, a political strategy consulting firm that has a $250,000 state subcontract for the “Get Covered Illinois” marketing campaign. The contract, which paid Compass at a rate of $282 per hour, may be renewed when it ends in August.

58. June 20, 2014

Decatur Herald-Review: Former county jail officer arraigned on two felonies

Penny Adams, 58, a former Macon County correctional officer, is facing up to 30 years in prison after she was arraigned Tuesday on two felony counts for allegedly giving a cellphone to a jail inmate.

Adams, a 25-year jail employee, was arrested May 16, after investigators discovered that she had been involved in a personal relationship with Willie B. Franklin Jr., 38, of Urbana, who was in federal custody on bank robbery charges. Adams resigned from her jail position the day she was arrested.

She is charged with unauthorized delivery of contraband in a penal institution by an employee, a Class X felony punishable by 10 to 30 years in prison.

57. June 19, 2014

U.S. Attorney’s Southern District of Illinois: Federal jury convicts Centreville woman of bilking Medicaid

Stephen R. Wigginton, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois, announced today that on June 18, 2014, Irma Jones, 67, of Centreville, Illinois, after a three day jury trial in the United States District Court in East St. Louis, was convicted by jury after less than one hour deliberation on all three counts of an indictment charging that she engaged in a scheme to defraud the Medicaid program. The three counts included health care fraud, making false statements in connection with a healthcare benefit program, and lying to investigating agents when confronted with her scam. Sentencing in this case is set for October 10, 2014. The charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and up to 3 years of supervised release.

Evidence in Court showed that Jones was a Medicaid beneficiary and that she submitted false claims for Medicaid home health care services claiming that her daughter, who Jones falsely represented was her niece, provided services that were never performed. When investigators from the Illinois State Police, investigating federal charges, questioned Jones about the false billing, Jones lied to investigators.

56. June 19, 2014

Chicago Tribune: Mayor cashes in with restaurateur linked to O’Hare

In April, Mayor Rahm Emanuel stood in the newly remodeled Terminal 5 at O’Hare International Airport, unveiling the sparkling gateway as the newest evidence of Chicago’s global status.

The project developer predicted international fliers would generate big sales at the new shops and restaurants, thanks in part to the airport debut of famed local restaurant group Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises and its popular Chicago brands, including Wow Bao, Big Bowl and R.J. Grunts Burger and Fries.

Just a month earlier, Emanuel himself was at a Lettuce Entertain You restaurant, records show, for a political fundraiser that earned him more than $26,000 from restaurant founder Richard Melman and his family. The money from the event at Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak and Stone Crab was part of more than $59,000 donated to the mayor’s re-election fund in March by people and restaurants tied to Lettuce Entertain You.

55. June 19, 2014

Chicago Tribune: Ex-school worker stole 47 iPads, tried to sell them on Craigslist

A judge set bail at $150,000 Thursday for a former Oak Park public school employee who was charged with stealing 47 iPad minis and other equipment that was intended to be used by students with special needs, according to district officials and authorities.

Markeita L. Beecher-Martin, 25, of Radcliff, Ky., surrendered to Oak Park police on Wednesday after a 10-month investigation by the police department, according to Oak Park Police Commander LaDon Reynolds. She was charged with theft, Reynolds said.

He said the police investigation found that Beecher-Martin was selling the computers on Craigslist.

54. June 19, 2014

Chicago Sun-Times: Woman sues Ald. Cardenas, says she was fired after talking to FBI

A former 12th Ward worker is suing the city and Ald. George Cardenas (12th), alleging she was unjustly terminated in May after she answered FBI questions about “illegal hiring practices and other illegal operations” in Cardenas’ office.

Maria Chavez, who worked in the 12th Ward Public Service Office from May 3, 2003 until May 2, 2014, filed the lawsuit Thursday in Cook County Circuit Court, alleging, among other things, that the city and Cardenas violated the Illinois Whistleblower Act.

The lawsuit claims the city’s Inspector General initially received complaints that Cardenas was using city property and city employees to gather voters’ signatures and notarize petition sheets for his 2012 reelection.

53. June 19, 2014

Chicago Sun-Times: Feds released wrong info on new airport flight paths

Federal officials released incorrect and incomplete information about how new O’Hare International Airport flight paths would affect residents during a legally required period of public comment, the Chicago Sun-Times has found.

Nearly three-quarters of the figures in one key table — on the now-contentious issue of what percentage of traffic each runway will carry — were quietly changed online months after public hearings ended, the Sun-Times discovered.

Some changes doubled, tripled and even quadrupled the percentage of flights the runways were predicted to direct over Bensenville, Wood Dale, the city’s 41st Ward and Schiller Park by the time the $8 billion O’Hare Modernization Program is completed.

In addition, the Sun-Times found that the Federal Aviation Administration had the figures to calculate the actual number of flights each runway would carry but never produced those numbers at the legally required public hearings in 2005 on its draft environmental impact study of the project.

52. June 18, 2014

Chicago Sun-Times: Emanuel’s ex-comptroller admits wrongdoing in Pakistan court

Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s former comptroller, Amer Ahmad, has admitted in court in Pakistan that he forged documents to flee overseas.

But he will not be getting a slap on the wrist anytime soon for making a fake Pakistani National Identity Card and birth certificate, an official in the South Asian country said.

Ahmad, who fled to his parents’ homeland this spring, had his bail application for the crimes rejected by a judge in Lahore this week, according to Usman Anwar, the Punjab region director for the Federal Investigation Agency, Pakistan’s version of the FBI

51. June 18, 2014

Belleville News Democrat: No charges: Delaney denies bartender’s allegation that he tried to kiss her

Robert Delaney, whose tearful resignation a year ago as St. Clair County clerk followed allegations by female employees of repeated sexual harassment, was investigated in May after a bartender complained he grabbed her and tried to kiss her.

Delaney denies the woman’s allegation. And no charges will be filed because of a “lack of witnesses and evidence and conflicting statements,” according to a police report.

The 55-year-old, longtime Democrat was accused May 3 by a female employee of Knights of Columbus Council 592’s clubroom hall on Old Collinsville Road. The call to the O’Fallon Police Department came in just after noon as a complaint of “sexual assault” but was investigated as disorderly conduct.

In May, the county agreed to pay five female employees various portions of $665,000 as part of an agreement that none would sue the county over allegations that Delaney sexually harassed them by kissing them, touching them inappropriately or suggesting sexual relations. He also was accused of using language derogatory toward women and racially discriminating against minority employees.

50. June 17, 2014

The State Journal-Register: Panel might subpoena anti-violence director

Illinois lawmakers will decide Monday whether to subpoena a former official in Gov. Pat Quinn’s administration to answer questions about the Democrat’s anti-violence program.

Bloomington Republican Sen. Jason Barickman is co-chairman of the Legislative Audit Commission and a member of the subcommittee that will meet Monday. He says the panel will vote on whether to compel Barbara Shaw to answer questions about the Neighborhood Recovery Initiative.

49. June 16, 2014

Better Government Association: Road block

Illinois Transportation Secretary Ann Schneider said in April she knew nothing about potentially illegal patronage hiring at the state agency she runs.

Now, Schneider is refusing to discuss how her stepdaughter secured a job and promotion at the Illinois Department of Transportation – and whether the proper personnel procedures were followed.

Schneider was appointed by Gov. Pat Quinn in 2011 to run the state agency, which maintains thousands of miles of roads across the state, and helps promote and regulate rail travel and airports in Illinois.

48. June 16, 2014

Chicago Tribune: Probation department probe to begin

As an investigation into the Cook County Adult Probation Department ordered by the county’s chief judge begins, a focus will be the department’s little-known and controversial partnerships with the FBI and other law enforcement agencies.

Joseph Gagliardo, whose Laner Muchin Ltd. law firm will conduct the investigation, said his team will look into allegations that the probation department has improperly partnered with those agencies and others on searches of homes.

“We are going to look at what’s going on in terms of these other law enforcement agencies,” Gagliardo said. “I don’t know if these instances are isolated or are they common practice.”

Chief Judge Timothy Evans, who oversees the court’s probation department, hired the law firm in May after a Tribune investigation found that probation officers for years have brought the FBI and others into probationers’ homes without warrants, looking for guns, drugs and information on gangs and crime, and leading to questionable and illegal searches.

47. June 16, 2014

ABC 7: Suburban men working wrestling biz on sick leave ‘tap out’

In the wrestling business, when a grappler can’t take it anymore, they tap their hand on the mat as a signal of submission that they want to quit the match. On Monday, “tapping out” is just what a tag team of Orland Park public works employees has done.

Two employees have resigned two weeks after the I-Team found them working on the pro-wrestling circuit while on disability from their government jobs.

Since November, Dan Slewoski had been on paid medical leave from his $69,000-a-year job in the Village of Orland Park. And since February, his partner Frank Rollins Jr. had been on disability from the suburban village.

Rollins’ wrestling videos were shot with village equipment and are still on the Internet, but Rollins said “stroke-like conditions” prevented him from going to work with the public works department.

46. June 16, 2014

Chicago Sun-Times: IDOT chief’s stepdaughter got job, promotion at state agency

Illinois Transportation Secretary Ann Schneider said in April she knew nothing about potentially illegal patronage hiring at the state agency she runs.

Now, Schneider is refusing to discuss how her stepdaughter secured a job and promotion at the Illinois Department of Transportation — and whether the proper personnel procedures were followed.

Schneider was appointed by Gov. Pat Quinn in 2011 to run the state agency, which maintains thousands of miles of roads across the state and helps promote and regulate rail travel and airports in Illinois.

45. June 15, 2014

Chicago Sun-Times: Madigan firm got $1.7M tax break for contractor, its partners

When Mesirow Financial Services — a Chicago company that manages millions of dollars in pension funds for the state of Illinois — and its partners wanted to fight the property taxes on their new skyscraper, they called the law offices of Illinois House Speaker Michael J. Madigan.

Madigan’s law firm saved the Mesirow group more than $1.7 million in real estate taxes by persuading Cook County officials to slash the value of the River North building by 60 percent soon after it opened nearly five years ago.

Mesirow no longer owns the building at 353 N. Clark that still serves as its headquarters. But the law firm of Madigan & Getzendanner has continued to save Mesirow money by getting the tax bills lowered for the building’s owner.

44. June 15, 2014

Chicago Tribune: Municipal accountant under scrutiny

Federal investigators are gathering records across the suburbs regarding a municipal accountant at the center of a botched deal that cost taxpayers $10 million, the Tribune has learned.

According to interviews and records obtained by the newspaper, the U.S. attorney’s office ordered the suburbs of Riverdale, Dolton and Robbins to turn over contracts and payment records involving accountant Joseph Letke, a longtime, go-to financial adviser for several south suburbs. A letter accompanying one subpoena, delivered by an FBI agent, termed the request part of an “official criminal investigation.”

All three suburbs said they are cooperating. The FBI and U.S. attorney’s office declined comment. An email and a phone message left for Letke at one of his firms, Alli Financial, were not returned.

43. June 13, 2014

Southern Illinoisan: Carterville band director charged with taking illicit photos of teen

Michael Todd Norrington, 40, of Carterville, is accused of taking several photographs “under or through the clothing” of a 14-year-old child.

Norrington is the Carterville High School band director.

He was arrested Wednesday, charged with unauthorized video recording and is in custody pending a first appearance at 1:30 p.m. today in Jackson County court.

The alleged offenses occurred Tuesday in Jackson County. The class 3 felony carries a maximum penalty of 3 to 7 years in prison.

42. June 13, 2014

Chicago Tribune: Kirk cites evidence of fraud at Hines

U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk said today he would notify federal investigators of what he called the first well-documented case of fraud at Hines Veterans Affairs Hospital.

At a press conference, Kirk introduced Michael Swan and said records from the VA hospital appeared to show that wait times for the Army veteran had been falsified.

“My worry is that this is part of the systemic culture of corruption inside the Hines VA,” Kirk told reporters. “I will be referring Michael’s details to the U.S. Attorney for possible inclusion in the ongoing Department of Justice investigation of the VA.”

41. June 13, 2014

Southern Illinoisan: Franklin County employee charged with theft

An employee of the Franklin County Circuit Clerk’s Office has been arrested, State’s Attorney Evan Owens announced Friday.

Kendra Eickelman, 46, is charged with official misconduct and theft.

“On June 12, 2014 at 4:34 p.m., the Franklin County State’s Attorney’s Office was notified by Franklin County Sheriff Don Jones that Kendra Eickelman, an employee at the Franklin County Circuit Clerk’s Office, had resigned and in the process of resigning, had told a fellow employee that “she had taken money…” while employed by Franklin County government,” Owens said.

Eickelman, a three-year employee in the office, was arrested this morning and is in the custody of the sheriff.

40. June 13, 2014

Crain’s:  Former Illinois securities regulator admits to Medicaid fraud

The former No. 2 person in Secretary of State Jesse White’s securities-regulation unit has agreed to plead guilty to federal health-fraud charges.

Marlene Liss, the former $75,000-a-year deputy director of the Office of Securities, signed a plea deal with federal prosecutors in Springfield saying she will confess to being part of a scheme in which she billed the Medicaid program for work as a home-health aide for hours when she was on Mr. White’s clock.

The matter falls under federal jurisdiction because Medicaid is partially funded by the federal government.

39. June 13, 2014

Illinois Policy: Political insiders receive multi-million-dollar contract to promote ObamaCare in Illinois

Get Covered Illinois has been hit by two scandals in as many days.

A recent Associated Press investigation into a $33 million federal grant to promote ObamaCare in Illinois revealed that “More than 90 people, including executives from the firm and its subcontractors, billed at least $270 an hour for salary and overhead during the first four months.” Not only do these hourly wage rates for public relations professionals seem excessive, but Illinois spent more on TV marketing and promotion than any other large state, according to the investigation.

On the heels of that story, Crain’s reported that a key subcontractor owned by three top Democrat strategists with close ties to Gov. Pat Quinn, Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan, Attorney General Lisa Madigan and former Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley were not only billing at $282 per hour, but were authorized to take direction directly from the Governor’s office under a special provision of its contract.

38. June 13, 2014

St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Another former elementary student in Freeburg claims sex abuse, files suit

Another former student in Freeburg has filed suit, claiming he was sexually abused by the schools superintendent who later killed himself.

This is the fifth student to make such claims.

The school district already has paid $5.6 million to settle several other lawsuits by former elementary students who claimed then-Superintendent Robin Hawkins molested them. As part of the settlements, the district denies any wrongdoing.

Hawkins killed himself in 2009 as police investigated claims of another male student.

In the latest suit, filed Wednesday in federal court in East St. Louis, a man identifying himself only as John Doe 4 alleges he was sexually abused at the Carl L. Barton Elementary School by Hawkins. The alleged abuse happened on school property from the spring of 2008 to the spring of 2009, when Doe was in the seventh and eighth grades.

37. June 12, 2014

Chicago Tribune: Two ministers backing Quinn got money from troubled state program

Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn received a robust re-election endorsement this week from dozens of Chicago area ministers, including at least two whose religious organizations got money from a much-criticized state anti-violence grant program.

Apostle Carl White spoke highly of Quinn during the endorsement session at a Hyde Park hotel meeting room. What went unsaid: a state audit found that a lead agency in the Neighborhood Recovery Initiative anti-violence program paid $1,000 for a golf outing put on by White’s Victory Christian International Ministries in April 2011.

36. June 12, 2014

Chicago Tribune: Brookins chief of staff pleads not guilty to bribery

A former top aide to Ald. Howard Brookins pleaded not guilty today to federal bribery and extortion charges.

Curtis V. Thompson Jr. was charged in March with accepting a $7,500 cash bribe from a undercover operative posing as a real estate developer seeking a liquor license for a convenience store in the 21st Ward.

Thompson was Brookins’ chief of staff at the time of the alleged payoff last December.

Brookins was not charged and has denied any wrongdoing.

35. June 11, 2014

Better Government Association: Granting favors?

Young job seekers in Chicago’s south suburbs stood to benefit from almost a half-million dollars awarded by Gov. Pat Quinn’s now-defunct anti-violence grant program that’s under investigation.

But some of that money went to a local government official with ties to Thornton Township Supervisor Frank Zuccarelli, a south suburban power broker and political supporter of Quinn, the Better Government Association found.

A nonprofit affiliated with Zuccarelli received the big grant from Quinn’s Neighborhood Recovery Initiative (NRI) with funds earmarked for mentoring and youth employment programs.

Also benefitting was another organization run by Thornton Township Youth Director Jerry Weems, a Zuccarelli underling and campaign contributor. Weems’ organization was paid almost $10,000 with NRI funds and Weems himself was paid additional salary with state grant money.

34. June 10, 2014

Chicago Sun-Times: FBI raids Concept Schools in Illinois 2 other states

The FBI and two other federal agencies conducted raids in Illinois and two other states at charter schools run by Des Plaines-based Concept Schools, FBI officials said Tuesday.

Search warrants were executed at 19 Concept schools in connection with an “ongoing white-collar crime matter,” said Vicki Anderson, a special agent in the Cleveland FBI office that’s leading the probe.

The U.S. Department of Education and the Federal Communications Commission also were involved in the June 4 raids, but officials said the warrants remain under seal, and they wouldn’t give any details about the investigation.

If our seemingly endless stream of corruption news wasn’t enough to convince you that Illinois has a serious problem, the numbers are in. Illinois is the fourth-most corrupt state in the country, according to a recent study.

The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Hong Kong and Indiana University, estimates that corruption on the state level cost Americans in the 10 most corrupt states an average of $1,308 per capita over the 12-year period of 1997-2008.

To frame that data another way, the cost of corruption accounts for 5.2 percent of those states’ average expenditures over that time frame. That’s more than five cents from every public dollar that could have funded essential state services but instead went to lining the pockets of criminals.

Not surprisingly, Illinois is one of those 10-worst states – coming in fourth on the corruption list – preceded only by Mississippi, Louisiana and Tennessee, using data from 1976-2008. Another study from the University of Illinois at Chicago, which includes an additional two years of data, ranks Illinois as the third-most corrupt state.

“The results of this article suggest that preventing public officials’ corruption and restraining spending induced by public corruption should accompany other efforts at fiscal constraint,” the study’s authors write. Amid talks of pension reform, minimum wage hikes and slashing social services, this study highlights the importance of addressing corruption.

Not only is it an abuse of power and voter trust, corruption is estimated to cost Illinois taxpayers a total of $1.4 billion per year.

So far this month, we’ve tracked 33 corruption stories from around the state; from more VA corruption, to a state senator facing accusations of not living in his home district, to a state representative being convicted of accepting bribes.

33. June 12, 2014

NBC 5: Peoria Mayor sued over response to Twitter account

The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit against Peoria’s mayor and police chief alleging they violated free speech rights with a raid on the home of a man who created a parody Twitter account in the mayor’s name.

The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Peoria, seeks monetary damages on behalf of 29-year-old Jonathan Daniel.

Daniel set up the account in March. It included Mayor Jim Ardis’ photo, and in crude language, the tweets talked about sex and drugs. As part of the investigation, police officers raided a home and seized computers and phones.

Three people at the home were brought to a police station to be interviewed, as were two other people who were met by police at their workplaces.

32. June 12, 2014

Chicago Sun-Times: Lawsuit ups ante on Rutherford; adds Romney camp as defendant

Allegations in a federal lawsuit that crippled the gubernatorial campaign of Illinois Treasurer Dan Rutherford intensified on Thursday as an ex-worker broadened his claims to include the Mitt Romney for President campaign.

The sexual harassment and political intimidation lawsuit filed by Ed Michalowski, also contends that Rutherford maintained a “clout list” of interns, which allegedly included the names of politicians sponsoring the internship.

“We have no comment right now,” said Rutherford spokeswoman Mary Frances Bragiel.

The Romney allegations are that Rutherford, as Illinois chair of the Republican presidential candidate’s 2012 failed campaign, obligated state employees to work on the campaign or be retaliated against.

31. June 11, 2014

Northwest Herald: Health admin’s retirement deal draws criticism

The $47,479 parting gift that former McHenry County Public Health Administrator Patrick McNulty received raised the blood pressure of a County Board committee.

McNulty, who retired at the end of May after 35 years with the McHenry County Department of Health, cashed in about 80 days of unused vacation time, or about four years’ worth, given the rate at which he accumulated it, according to records. While county government in 2006 significantly curtailed how much vacation time employees can carry over, the Board of Health at the time granted McNulty an exemption.

The fact that McNulty’s case is unique, and that allegations of other health department executives having similar deals turned out to be unfounded, was not much of a consolation to the County Board Public Health and Human Services Committee. Member Paula Yensen, who addressed the issue at Wednesday’s meeting after learning of it, said taxpayers gave him “a very nice going-away present.”

30. June 11, 2014

Chicago Tribune: Ex-CTA workers charged with wire fraud, identity theft

Two former CTA bus drivers are accused of submitting fake death certificates and stealing the identities of former co-workers in an attempt to take thousands of dollars in CTA retirement funds, the Attorney General’s office announced Wednesday.

Donella Anderson Watkins, 41, of Lansing, was charged with wire fraud, identity theft and continuing a financial crimes enterprise. Her husband, Sammie Watkins, 55, of Lansing, was charged with wire fraud and attempted identity theft, according to a release from Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office.

The couple appeared Wednesday in Cook County Criminal Court, officials said. Both were bus drivers, according to salary information posted on the CTA’s website. The couple was fired from the CTA in July 2013, a CTA spokeswoman said.

29. June 11, 2014

Chicago Sun-Times: More questions arise on Quinn’s anti-violence grants

Young job seekers in Chicago’s south suburbs stood to benefit from almost half a million dollars awarded by Gov. Pat Quinn’s now-defunct anti-violence grant program that’s under investigation.

But some of that money went to a local government official with ties to Thornton Township Supervisor Frank Zuccarelli, who is a south suburban power broker known for turning out the vote and a political supporter of Quinn, the Better Government Association has found.

Thornton Township Youth Director Jerry Weems, a Zuccarelli underling and campaign contributor, got part of his salary paid with state grant money; got nearly $10,000 for his own nonprofit; and even more money — $3,600 — for a company owned by his sister-in-law.

28. June 11, 2014

Chicago Sun-Times: FBI raids Concept Schools in Illinois, 2 other states

The FBI and two other federal agencies conducted raids in Illinois and two other states at charter schools run by Des Plaines-based Concept Schools, FBI officials said Tuesday.

Search warrants were executed at 19 Concept schools in connection with an “ongoing white-collar crime matter,” said Vicki Anderson, a special agent in the Cleveland FBI office that’s leading the probe.

The U.S. Department of Education and the Federal Communications Commission also were involved in the June 4 raids, but officials said the warrants remain under seal, and they wouldn’t give any details about the investigation.

The raids targeted Concept schools in Illinois — where Concept has three schools in Chicago and one in Peoria — as well as in Indiana and Ohio.

27. June 10, 2014

Chicago Tribune: State Rep. Derrick Smith convicted of accepting $7,000 bribe

State Rep. Derrick Smith was convicted today of pocketing $7,000 in a cash bribe in the days before he won the Democratic primary in 2012.

Jurors deliberated about four hours over two days before finding Smith guilty shortly before noon.

Under state law, Smith automatically loses his legislative seat with his conviction on felony counts of bribery and extortion. He was a lame duck legislator anyway since he lost the Democratic primary earlier this year.

Smith, 50, a longtime West Side political operative, becomes the latest in a long line of Illinois public officials caught trying to use his position to line his pockets.

He took what he thought was a kickback in exchange for writing a letter of support for a day care operator in his district to obtain a lucrative state grant, but it was ruse concocted as part of an FBI undercover investigation.

26. June 11, 2014

Chicago Tribune: State senator’s home may be away

State Sen. Napoleon Harris owns a house befitting a former NFL linebacker and successful businessman: a $400,000 residence in an upscale subdivision in south suburban Flossmoor.

But Harris says he lives and votes from 10 miles away in blighted Harvey, residing in a townhouse on the pothole-pitted stretch of road that runs behind a strip mall that houses his district office and one of his Beggar’s Pizza franchises.

The two locations are strikingly different for a less obvious reason: The Flossmoor house sits outside the district Harris represents, while the Harvey town house is inside it. The Illinois Constitution requires that state lawmakers live in the districts they serve.

While no one has formally challenged Harris’ residency, records for each of his addresses, and his ambiguous responses to inquiries about who lives at them, leave room for doubt about where he resides.

Harris, who was unopposed in the Democratic primary this spring and has no opponent in the November election, seems all but certain to return to Springfield for his second term representing the 15th Senate District.

25.  June 10, 2014

The Pantagraph: Charges dropped after ex-officer doesn’t respond to questions

A former Bloomington police officer’s refusal to answer a question during a trial was cited as the reason prosecutors on Tuesday dropped all charges against the defendant.

On the stand, VanHoveln asserted his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination when asked if reports in Drews’ case were forged.

VanHoveln’s lawyer, Stephanie Wong, said he did not respond because the question called for a legal conclusion. Charges against VanHoveln relate to 11 tickets allegedly forged in January and February 2014.

24.  June 9, 2014

State Journal-Register: Closing arguments made at Illinois lawmaker trial

An Illinois lawmaker placed his own welfare above his constituents by taking a $7,000 bribe from a day care operator seeking a state grant, a prosecutor said during closing arguments Monday.

An attorney for Rep. Derrick Smith, however, told jurors a campaign worker-turned-informant hoodwinked the Chicago Democrat to justify cooperation payments from his FBI handlers.

“He wasn’t going to commit a crime,” Victor Henderson said about his client. “That was something they fabricated.”

Prosecutor Marsha McClellan pooh-poohed the notion the 50-year-old was led astray against his will.

“There sits a defendant whose public face is one of service, but who privately wanted to use that office … to get cash into his pockets,” she said.

23. June 9, 2014

Chicago Tribune: Judge Laura Sullivan, take note

If Samuel V. Jones wasn’t a law professor, he might have put away his pen and pad when a deputy in Cook County Circuit Judge Laura Sullivan’s courtroom told him, “There is no note-taking in here.”

Instead, Jones ended up giving court officials a refresher course in the First Amendment.

He asked whether he had broken the law or disturbed anyone. He questioned deputies’ authority to confiscate his notes. They had no good answers. After detaining him for 30 minutes, they let him go, notes and all.

So he sat down and wrote about it. In a May 16 essay in the Tribune, Jones described his experience: He was ordered to sit on a bench, surrounded by officers, and told not to write or move. He also described the “abusive conduct” of deputies toward members of the public who were there to witness bond hearings.

It was a poor reflection on the judge and her courtroom, which is precisely the point.

22. June 9, 2014

Chicago Sun-Times: CPS didn’t maintain paperwork for tracking basketball eligibility

A week after Curie High School won the city basketball championship, a Chicago Public Schools investigation revealed that seven Curie basketball players had been ineligible for the entire season because the correct paperwork hadn’t been filed.

The Sun-Times’ No. 1-ranked team was stripped of its city title and 24 victories for the season.

Now, a Sun-Times investigation has found that CPS officials can’t say for sure that basketball players at every school — including the top teams — were eligible. That’s because the school district is missing most of the paperwork required to show team and player eligibility, documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request show. The district ignored initial requests for the data and later released it.

21. June 9, 2014

Chicago Sun-Times: Student who lost leg in crash settles suit with city for $5 million

A college student who lost part of his leg after a car crashed because of black ice — allegedly caused by a water main leak — will receive a $5 million settlement from the City of Chicago, his attorneys said Monday.

Edwin Hill was waiting at a bus stop at Indiana Avenue and 95th Street on Nov. 20, 2008, when a Ford Mustang spun out on a patch of black ice and pinned him against a city light pole, according to a statement from the Corboy & Demetrio law firm, which represented Hill. The Chicago State University computer science student was heading to night classes at the time. His right leg had to be amputated above the knee because of the crash, his attorneys said.

The negligence lawsuit against the city claimed the ice came from a water main leak on 95th that had existed for months, but the city failed to repair in a timely manner.

Two business owners were ready to testify that the city received previous complaints about the leak, Hill’s attorneys said. The city denied it had written complaints about the leak.

20. June 9, 2014

Peoria Journal Star: Group protests shooting of dog by officer

A Peoria police officer is under investigation after a May 20 incidence in which he killed a pit bull after shooting the dog multiple times. Police went to the home of Terry L. Sally, eventually arresting her on charges of obstructing an officer, disorderly conduct and possession of drug paraphernalia. Her pit bull was shot multiple times after allegedly coming after one of the responding officers. The multiple gunshots and death of the dog has prompted an internal investigation as a group protested in front of the Peoria Police Department on Monday.

Sally has refuted the claim that the pit bull posed a threat to the officers, while Assistant Police Chief Jerry Mitchell reiterated that all Peoria officers receive annual firearms training, including addressing physical threats.

19. June 9, 2014

The Southern Illinoisan: Audit: VA failed to schedule appointments

According to new audit figures, nearly 900 veterans have requested appointment at Illinois’ Veterans Administration hospitals in the past decade but not received them.

Illinois Sen. Mark Kirk says the audit is proof of a “toxic culture of corruption” throughout the department. Among the worst offenders is a VA hospital in Marion, to which 494 patients requested, but did not receive, an appointment.

18. June 7, 2014

State Journal-Register: Quinn: Shakman lacks authority to challenge hiring

Gov. Pat Quinn has asked a federal court to reject Michael Shakman’s challenge to state hiring, saying the Chicago anti-patronage attorney has no authority to raise questions and seeks resolution that would unnecessarily disrupt government and undermine gubernatorial authority.

The Democratic governor’s request, which blames the now-imprisoned ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich for any misconduct in hiring, was filed late Friday in U.S. District Court in Chicago.

Shakman, author of a landmark 1972 court decree prohibiting political hiring in Cook County government, renewed his suit against Quinn in April. It claims the administration violated the Shakman decree and another that regulates state hiring by improperly considering politics in employment and promotion at the Illinois Department of Transportation.

Shakman wants an investigation completed and a “special master” appointed to monitor and ensure proper hiring at all agencies under the governor’s control, a move Quinn’s lawyers reject as superfluous and threatening to duties — in this case, hiring — entrusted to government officials.

17. June 7, 2014

Chicago Tribune: UNO troubles put spotlight on its powerful friends

Last week, the SEC accused UNO and its charter-school network of defrauding investors who bought $37.5 million in bonds in 2011. UNO officials failed to disclose to bond-holders that they had given grant-funded contracts worth millions of dollars to a company owned by a brother of Rangel’s top deputy, Miguel d’Escoto.

According to the SEC, that deal and contracts with another d’Escoto brother potentially threatened UNO’s ability to repay bond-holders, if the state had demanded the return of tens of millions of dollars already spent building new schools.

After the Chicago Sun-Times revealed the insider deals in February 2013, state officials ultimately froze the remaining $15 million from the $98 million grant but didn’t demand a refund. Rangel and d’Escoto were forced out.

16. June 7, 2014

Chicago Sun-Times: Emails: Before election, a push to put money into Quinn program

New emails from prior to the 2010 gubernatorial election shed light on Gov. Pat Quinn’s much-maligned $54 million anti-violence program. The emails show that the administration attempted to move tax dollars into the Neighborhood Recovery Initiative in the weeks leading up to the November 2010 election, which Gov. Quinn eventually won by the narrowest of margins.

Emails from the former head of the Illinois Violence Prevention Authority, Barbara Shaw, expose her attempting to move money into the Neighborhood Recovery Initiative three weeks prior to the election. However, her efforts were cut short due to “insufficient funds” after the voucher request was made.

15. June 7, 2014

Quad City Times: McGhee asks state to probe county pension case

The Rock Island County state’s attorney has asked Illinois State Police to investigate allegations of pension fraud in the county.

John McGhee, adding that the investigation is “preliminary,” met with state police on June 6 to provide them with documents to review. He reviewed the documents before handing the case to the state police. He said Hoskins raised “questions as it relates to those pension accounts dealing with forest preserve commissioners.”

14. June 6, 2014

CBS 2: City Council progressive caucus wants hearing on crime stats

The City Council’s Progressive Caucus has asked for a public hearing into allegations the Chicago Police Department has exaggerated a drop in crime.

Police Supt. Garry McCarthy has said, despite widely reported shootings in the city, the overall homicide rate is the lowest it has been in decades.

Ald. Robert Fioretti (2nd), a member of the council’s Progressive Caucus, wants a closer look at the numbers, and he and six members of the caucus have asked Ald. James Balcer (11th), who chairs the Public Safety Committee, to hold hearings into the city’s crime statistics.

“We want to find what the public view is of crime classification, and reporting practices of the Chicago Police Department, because there’s a lot of issues dealing with the integrity of what the public is being told,” Fioretti said.

13. June 6, 2014

Chicago Sun-Times: Feds probe safety practices at Metra

The Federal Railroad Administration has launched a 45-day investigation into safety practices at the Metra commuter railroad system. While none of the three incidents resulted in an accident or injuries, each train engineer involved lost certification for 30 days.

“Three incidents serious enough to warrant decertification and in such a short period of time– warrant immediate action,” FRA Administrator Joseph Szabo said.

12. June 5, 2014

Illinois Attorney General: Charges former Grundy County Official with theft, official misconduct

Attorney General Lisa Madigan today announced charges against a former Grundy County official for stealing $44,000 in county funds to spend on personal shopping trips, meals at restaurants and visits to hair and nail salons.

Renae Chronister, 45, of Morris, appeared today in Grundy County Criminal Court before Judge Robert Marsaglia to face one count of theft, a Class 1 felony, and one count of official misconduct, a Class 3 felony.

11. June 5, 2014

St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Fourteen more people in Southern Illinois charged with Medicaid fraud

Fourteen people in Southern Illinois were charged today with defrauding the Medicaid home services program in Illinois by claiming money they were not owed.

U.S. Attorney Stephen R. Wigginton of the Southern District of Illinois announced the indictments today. As a result of ongoing investigations, both personal care assistants and Medicaid recipients were found to have committed fraud.

The charges carry a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment, a $250,000 fine and up to 3 years of supervised release.

“Many of these individuals just don’t get it – they either don’t care or don’t believe me when I say we will continue to investigate and root out those defrauding the program,” said U.S. Attorney Stephen R. Wigginton in a statement.

10. June 5, 2014

Naperville Sun: Naperville probe of HR allegations moving ahead

An investigation into allegations that Naperville City Manager Doug Krieger made “racially offensive” comments was recently completed. While the finding verified that an off-color joke by Krieger was promptly investigated and Krieger completed harassment prevention and awareness training, another staff member is the subject of more serious assertions.

The unnamed staff member was taken off city payroll on May 2 and is accused of an array of sexually inappropriate behaviors in a three-page memo. The employees comments reportedly created an anxiety level that routinely caused coworkers to cry or vomit.

9. June 4, 2014

Chicago Tribune: Former police commander padded DUI arrests to obtain grants

A former Des Plaines police commander accused of padding DUI arrest records to obtain federal grant money for the police department plead guilty to a lesser charge in federal court today.

Timothy Veit, 57, faces a maximum sentence of up to one year in prison after entering a guilty plea to a misdemeanor of violating Title 18 of the U.S. Code involving embezzlement and theft of public money.

The Mount Prospect resident initially was charged with one felony count of making false statements, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

8. June 4, 2014

Chicago Sun-Times: Advocates say online video series invaded privacy of special-ed CPS students

In response to a video series about special education students filmed inside a Chicago Public School, a group of child advocates have asked the Illinois State Board of Education to investigate possible violations of the children’s privacy.

But the Local School Council chair who invited the filmmakers to Montefiore Special Elementary School, 1310 S. Ashland Ave., without the district’s consent said he wanted to show the need for more therapeutic services in the district and the benefits Montefiore can provide.

A long list of disability-rights advocates — including attorneys and members of Access Living, Equip for Equality and the Learning Disabilities Association of Illinois — asked the state board whether CPS or the school violated the rights of Montefiore students under the state’s Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. They allege episodes captured in the eight-part series by VICE Media, called “Last Chance High” and posted to YouTube starting in March, reveal problems with how some staff treat Montefiore’s 7th through 9th graders.

7. June 3, 2014

WLS-AM: Two state representatives get their day in federal court

It has been a busy day in federal court.

Two state representatives, one current and one who quit, are fighting charges.

State Representative Derrick Smith was heard cussing quite a bit on undercover audio recordings, allegedly making arrangements to write a recommendation letter for a $7,000 bribe.

At one point, he calls himself unorthodox because he also wants to take care of his pals.

Then there was former State Representative Keith Farnham of Elgin pleading not guilty to child pornography charges, but his lawyer said later that could change.

6. June 3, 2014

Chicago Sun-Times: At trial, tapes keep rolling of Rep. Smith allegedly taking bribe

The pile of 70 crisp $100 bills had been neatly stacked into bundles.

“One, two, three, four, five — damn, stuck together, six, seven,” the federal mole counted out loud, as he handed over an alleged $7,000 bribe to state Rep. Derrick Smith, D-Chicago.

“You don’t want me to give you yours now?” Smith replied as they sat together in his parked car on a West Side street.

5. June 3, 2014

Chicago Tribune: Judge seizes ex-Emanuel comptroller’s bank accounts

A federal judge in Ohio has ordered that $107,000 be seized from the bank accounts of former Chicago city comptroller Amer Ahmad, who was arrested in Pakistan last month after fleeing the country.

The money, held in two bank accounts controlled by Ahmad, will become part of the convicted former city official’s $3.2 million restitution, according to a ruling issued by U.S. District Judge Michael Watson. Investigators located the money, and a federal magistrate ordered it seized on May 1, days after Ahmad had been arrested in Pakistan.

Pakistani officials have said they arrested Ahmad at an airport in Lahore where they say he was trying to enter the country on a forged Mexican passport and forged Pakistani visa. Those offenses can carry up to seven years in prison in Pakistan, according to the country’s Federal Investigation Agency.

4. June 3, 2014

Chicago Tribune: Metra removes 2 engineers from duty as it probes ‘scary’ Rock Island rides

Metra has removed two engineers from duty after two recent incidents on the Rock Island Line in which passengers reported being alarmed when their trains suddenly tilted precariously, the commuter rail agency said Tuesday.

One passenger told the Tribune that riders “collectively gasped” as the train listed to the side and seemed on the verge of derailing.

“It was scary as hell,” said Paul Bedell, 53, a longtime commuter from Tinley Park. “There was a gradual tilt, to the point where we knew something was wrong.”

3. June 3, 2014

Chicago Sun-Times: Sex harassment suit against Rutherford tossed; accuser to re-file

A federal judge has tossed out a sexual harassment lawsuit against Illinois State Treasurer Dan Rutherford — but has given his accuser little more than a week to file a new lawsuit.

Lawyers for Edmund Michalowski, a former employee of the Treasurer’s office who says Rutherford made unwanted sexual advances, described the judge’s ruling as “merely procedural in nature” and said they would file a new complaint before the deadline.

U.S. District Judge Joan Lefkow gave Michalowski until June 12 to re-file.

2. June 1, 2014

Southern Illinoisan: Voice of the Southern: No laws broken, but it looks wrong

Costello isn’t suspected of breaking the law. There is nothing prohibiting a former U.S.Congressman from working as a paid lobbyist. Costello made a good point in the story by explaining that his knowledge and experience have value to his clients, including those he helped while in Congress.

It wasn’t surprising to learn one of his clients was Boeing, which is paying him $10,000 per month as a lobbyist for the aerospace giant. Costello led a group of Illinois congressman to challenge a decision by the U.S. Air Force to award a $35 billion contract for an aerial refueling tanker to a European company. Eventually the decision was reversed and the contract was awarded to Boeing in 2011, a decision Costello publicly praised.

It also wasn’t terribly surprising to learn Costello is part of a lobbying team being paid $25,000 per month to protect Scott Air Force Base from an impending wave of military base closings. He succeeded in past efforts to ensure the survival of Scott and has a deep and broad pool of knowledge about the air base. Scott is a major economic engine for all of Southern Illinois and the region’s business community is wise to protect the air base, wise to hire the best possible lobbyists.

1. June 1, 2014

Chicago Tribune: City watchdog settles employee complaints

The city inspector general’s office has settled a complaint by a former employee who alleges she was sexually harassed by a superior and fired for trying to organize a union at a watchdog agency that normally dishes out reprimands for bad behavior in other city departments.

The city Law Department agreed to pay former inspector general investigator Sarah Hofsommer $99,999.99 in exchange for Hofsommer dropping her complaints with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Illinois Labor Relations Board. The settlement was one penny less than the amount that would have required City Council approval.

As part of the settlement, Inspector General Joseph Ferguson’s office did not admit guilt in either case. Law Department spokeswoman Shannon Breymaier said Ferguson “vigorously disputes the claims made.”

Illinois Corruption Watch, May 2014

Illinois Corruption Watch, April 2014




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