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5 government workers charged in corruption probe

Updated: October 16, 2012 8:51PM

A former Cook County medical examiner’s autopsy technician who threatened to shoot his colleagues when he learned he was being investigated for wrongdoing is one of the five latest government workers charged in the state’s attorney’s office’s “Operation Cookie Jar” public corruption probe.

Joel L. Neason, 58, filed a false workman’s compensation claim saying he had injured his back while helping a funeral director lift a body, prosecutors said.

In February, the Sun-Times had reported that Neason, then a $51,398-a-year morgue employee, made the gun threat after management informed him he could be fired.

When told he was being investigated, Neason, of Chicago, threatened to “get his gun and shoot everybody,” the state’s attorney’s office said.

Neason eventually was convicted of misdemeanor disorderly conduct for making the deadly threat, but he’s now facing felony charges for the false workman’s compensation allegations.

Another former county employee is also in hot water for allegedly pocketing $3,500 from motorists making payments for their traffic tickets at the Bridgeview courthouse.

Gregory Gill, of Chicago, who used to work in the Circuit Court Clerk’s Office in south suburban courthouse, was nabbed after investigators learned several drivers attempting to renew their licenses were told they still had unpaid tickets, prosecutors said.

Gill, 46, is charged with felony theft and official misconduct.

Also charged in the investigation is 36-year-old Chicagoan Teron Carey, a former Metra ticket clerk accused of stealing $2,500 from an open safe belonging to the agency.

Lucious Jefferson, 52, a former employee of the Cook County Forest Preserve District, also stole $4,000 worth of the county’s scrap metal, prosecutors said. The Orland Park man also allegedly hauled the materials in a county truck to an area junkyard.

And Kenneth Lazarro, a former highway maintainer for the Illinois Department of Transportation, allegedly crashed into several parked cars while plowing the snow with his state-owned vehicle. He then tried to cover up the damage by falsely claiming that he was the victim of a hit-an-run driver, prosecutors said. Lazarro, 49, of Chicago, is charged with criminal damage to government supported property, criminal damage to property, disorderly conduct and two counts of official misconduct.

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