Inspector general report alleges crimes both big and small
BY FRAN SPIELMAN City Hall Reporter April 17, 2014 5:22PM
Original: 11-19-09 Joseph M. Ferguson, Assistant United States Attorney who will become the new Inspector General for the City of Chicago....outside of the Federal Building 219 s Dearborn. Brian Jackson/Chicago Sun-Times Published: Joseph M. Ferguson, assistant U.S, attorney who will become the new inspector general for the City of Chicago, is a 1981 graduate of Lake Forest College. (Brian Jackson/Chicago Sun-Times)
Updated: April 17, 2014 5:50PM
A Department of Buildings employee accused of “slapping and grabbing a waitress on her buttocks” while at lunch with two colleagues.
Three Water Management employees accused of pocketing thousands of dollars by hauling scrap materials away from city work sites during business hours and selling it to private scrap yards.
A Streets and Sanitation employee who allegedly drank “multiple beers” and stopped off at a local bar while on the clock.
Inspector General Joe Ferguson released his quarterly report on Thursday and it once again includes cases large and small.
As always, the names of the accused employees are withheld. But the report includes a summary of the charges, the inspector general’s recommended discipline and the response from the appropriate department head. They include:
At least 13 times over a five-month surveillance, a construction laborer, a plumber and a hoisting engineer were accused of taking scrap metal and materials excavated from Water Management work sites to private scrap yards and trading it for cash. One of the employees was photographed “entering, presenting identification, receiving payment and leaving” the private business, the report said.
The laborer allegedly received over $6,000 during the course of the investigation and split the money with the other two. The laborer admitted he “had been hawking city property to multiple scrap yards for three or four years,” the report states.
“Thus, $6,000 understates the true scope and monetary value of their scheme,” Ferguson wrote.
All three initially denied participating in the scheme, only to admit it after being presented with “overwhelming evidence, including photographs and a co-conspirator admission.”
Ferguson recommended discipline “up to and including discharge” for all three. Water Management gave each employee a 29-day suspension.
■ The Department of Buildings employee accused of “slapping and grabbing a waitress on her buttocks” while at lunch with two colleagues. All three often wore “publicly visible” city ID’s and were known to restaurant staff as Department of Buildings employees. Ferguson recommended that the employee be fired. Buildings concurred. The employee is seeking to overturn the discharge.
■ Several Streets and Sanitation employees accused of falsifying attendance records, failing to return to work on time after breaks and, in one case, drinking on the job by chugging beers and going to a bar. One of the laborers allegedly operated a city refuse truck without a commercial driver’s license on two occasions. Another was accused of using an assigned refuse truck to drive home and to another residence and falsifying time sheets to cover it up. One of the laborers retired to avoid being fired. Two others were slapped with 29-day suspensions. The ward superintendent accused of failing to exercise appropriate supervision got a written reprimand.
■ An employee of the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities accused of “regularly taking a city vehicle home” without authorization after four undercover surveillances. When confronted with the evidence, the employee blamed “laziness” for the decision to repeatedly drive home over a nearly one-year period, even though supervisors had denied authorization to do so.
■ A Water Management hoisting engineer accused of remaining at or returning to a city job site on several occasions, then using a city backhoe to “help scrap-metal collectors load the metal onto their trucks.” Ferguson’s investigation began after the Chicago Police Department arrested several scrappers for allegedly stealing pipes and other metal from an unattended city work site. They subsequently pleaded guilty and claimed they had been tipped to the piles by the hoisting engineer. The employee resigned before disciplinary action could be taken.
■ A Water Management motor truck driver accused of secretly recording a supervisor. Before disciplinary action could be taken, the Illinois Supreme Court overturned the state’s eavesdropping law.