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Former head of Cook County’s POET job training progam arrested and charged

Updated: August 15, 2012 6:05AM

Federal authorities Friday arrested the former acting director of Cook County’s scandal-marred job-training program on federal charges of having workers fake birth certificates and other documents that had gone missing from the program.

Brendolyn Hart-Glover, 42, allegedly told staffers to recreate missing documents being sought by the state, which was reviewing the county’s federally funded 2009 Summer Youth Program, prosecutors alleged.

Hart-Glover, of Chicago, was field operations manager in 2009 and, during 2010, served as acting director of the Cook County President’s Office of Employment Training, or POET.

Now disbanded, POET had long been plagued with problems, from staffers sent to prison for on-the-job theft to accounting irregularities that lead to the county returning $8.4 million in federal job-training money between 2003 and 2008.

In 2009, federal grant money was frozen amid allegations that some of the 16- to 24-year-old employees in the program weren’t getting paid.

According to federal authorities, the state’s Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, which gave POET $5.67 million for summer youth jobs in 2009 and 2010, sought a host of records from the county during a review of expenses.

The state had found problems with files tied to hundreds of participants in the program. The 2009 program had 1,400 participants.

In October 2009, the state sent POET a letter noting the problems and saying approximately 70 files were unaccounted for. The state told POET in July 2010 it would not cover approximately $1.4 million in costs based on the shoddy documentation.

The feds built their case around several current and former POET employees, who alleged that Hart-Glover instructed them to “reproduce” or “recreate” the files that were needed to satisfy the state agency and to preserve the program’s funding.

“Let me make something clear. It is not an option for you to not have the Summer Youth files,” she allegedly instructed a small group of workers in the summer of 2010, according to the feds. “There will be no POET if we do not get those files.”

In August 2010, Hart-Glover sent the state a letter with two boxes containing allegedly doctored documents. She insisted that 56 of the approximately 70 missing documents had been found and were included in her shipment to the state, according to the feds.

Hart-Glover was interviewed in March 2011 by federal agents and allegedly denied ordering POET employees to produce phony documents, including birth certificates, or to alter dates on public aid printouts so that they corresponded with the group’s application for funding, the criminal complaint alleged.

Hart-Glover was arrested early Friday at her Chicago home but released later in the day after posting bond, which was set at $4,500.

Her lawyer, Daryl Berry, said he was still reviewing the government’s complaint and needed to examine the statements and backgrounds of several confidential informants federal investigators used to build their case against his client.

But Berry vouched for Hart-Glover’s innocence, saying he had known her for more than 20 years.

“She used to live across the street from me. She’s worked in my real estate office as a broker. She’s worked with the county for a number of years. I’ve never known Brandolyn to have anything, not even a parking ticket. This is totally contrary to what I know of her character,” Berry said.

In early 2011, as the federal investigation was unfolding, Hart-Glover was suspended. She told the Sun-Times she was shocked, and didn’t have a clue as to why.

“They wouldn’t tell me why,” Hart-Glover said at the time, referring to the county job program’s top boss and the human resources chief who informed her she was off the job indefinitely.

“All I was told was that I was put on emergency suspension. I’ve worked for the county for 20 years, and I’ve never even been written up,” Hart-Glover said then.

Hart-Glover is the sister-in-law of Shirley Glover, a former Cook County financial manager who was given prison time after pleading guilty to stealing more than $100,000 from the job-training program she oversaw.

After the problems in the office came to light, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle cleaned house.

“The president finds this type of conduct unacceptable,” Preckwinkle spokeswoman Jessey Neves said. “Since her inauguration, she has made it a priority to improve and strengthen the county’s workforce development efforts. She appointed new leadership, hired new staff and conducted a complete overhaul of the county workforce development — from how we render client services to how we engage the business sector.

“This resulted in a new program called Cook County Works,” Neves continued. “Within less than 30 days of new leadership at CCW, leadership uncovered what was believed to be a federal criminal conspiracy and took swift and deliberate actions to remove the involved individuals from the program. In light of [Friday]’s actions, those actions proved correct.”

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