Does the ‘C’ in Chicago stand for corruption?

Shutterstock 81618988Looks like the “C” in Chicago really does stand for corruption. (For a whole web page on this, click here.)

From corrupt governors (yes, the plural is correct — former Illinois governors Rod Blagojevich (trying to sell a Senate seat and other corruption charges) and George Ryan (licenses for bribes scandal) — to the Chicago Outfit mafia, my adopted state (I’m originally an Ohioan) is making headlines again.

The Illinois Tollway’s Office of the Inspector General today issued its report summarizing activity for April 2012 through September 2012. The Office handled 203 total cases during this six-month period, opening 101 and closing 102. Seven full investigations were opened and 11 were closed.

Two of the cases involved criminal charges for thefts in which employees either collected toll payments and kept the money or allowed drivers to travel without paying and then incorrectly classified the vehicles as emergency vehicles to cover up the thefts, according to the Illinois Tollway Authority.

One case involved a charge of misdemeanor battery against a Tollway manager to an employee. Another case involved threatening phone calls made to a Tollway manager from an individual who had been seeking employment at the Tollway.

Other investigations resulted in disciplinary action against an employee collecting benefits for which they did not qualify and termination of one employee who was misusing a transponder provided to Tollway employees for commuting purposes, the Illinois Tollway Authority notes in a press release.

Several requests for investigations were referred to the Office of the Inspector General by the Tollway’s management team, including requests to review procurement processes and utility billing, according to the Illinois Tollway Authority. In both cases, no evidence of any attempts by Tollway employees to intentionally subvert the agency’s processes were found, the Illinois Tollway Authority reports.

“The Office of the Inspector General continues to review and respond to any and all questions regarding Tollway compliance with policies and procedures, especially those that guide the agency as it spends public funds,” said Illinois Tollway Executive Director Kristi Lafleur in a written statement. “We take these findings seriously and welcome the opportunity to improve our operations.”

Another investigation identified a construction contractor in violation of Tollway policies and rules for fulfilling Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) requirements.  This violation of DBE policy took place in 2007 and was discovered in April 2010 when the Tollway was reviewing the final paperwork to close out the contract.  According to the Inspector General’s report, the construction contractor took DBE credit after financially covering for a DBE firm unable to fulfill the terms of its contract.  The issue was also referred to the Office of the Inspector General for investigation by the Tollway’s management team.

“Members of the Tollway Board are pleased with the continued progress made by the Inspector General,” said Illinois Tollway Board Chair Paula Wolff in a written statement. “We appreciate the breadth and depth of investigations and value Jim’s insights into how we can improve our agency’s policies and procedures.”

“We continue to work hard to send the message that misuse of Tollway funds and resources is not tolerated,” said Illinois Tollway Inspector General James Wagner in a press release from the agency. “Cooperation and support are key to our successful investigations to date.”

There are no recommended administrative actions or matters for consideration by the Governor, the Tollway Board of Directors and the General Assembly since all issues were appropriately addressed by Tollway management and the Inspector General, according to the Illinois Tollway Authority.

A copy of the complete report is available to view or download at