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City inspector general outlines array of cases

Inspector General Joseph Ferguson

Inspector General Joseph Ferguson

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Updated: July 20, 2011 4:49PM

A former high-ranking city of Chicago employee who continues to cash in on city contracts even after testifying in federal court about his role in a scheme to rig hiring and promotions at City Hall.

A not-for-profit corporation that allegedly forged bank letters in a failed attempt to secure a $1 million city subsidy.

A high-ranking city Department of Water Management employee driven to job sites after a DUI bust that stripped him of his driver’s license.

And a city “Snow Command” chief who was recommended for firing — but stayed on the payroll — after using city employees to perform his personal errands on city time.

Those are among the cases investigated in the past three months by city of Chicago Inspector General Joe Ferguson.

Though the names of city workers and contractors weren’t listed in Ferguson’s latest quarterly report, sources said the contractor who acknowledged rigging hiring was John Kosiba, a former city water management commissioner.

In 2006, Kosiba was the highest-ranking city official to testify at the corruption trial that culminated with the conviction of Robert Sorich, who was Mayor Richard M. Daley’s patronage chief.

Ferguson noted that Kosiba acknowledged under oath that he “falsified interview ratings forms and requests to hire” as part of a long-running scheme to rig city hiring and promotions to reward the Hispanic Democratic Organization and other pro-Daley armies of political workers.

Ferguson said he recommended that Kosiba be declared “ineligible to do business with the city” but that didn’t happen and his office “is taking steps to seek a further review of this matter.”

Kosiba — who couldn’t be reached for comment — is now chief operating officer of Span Tech, a city contractor that manages O’Hare Airport’s international terminal.

The identify of the non-profit accused of fraud involving tax-increment financing fraud wasn’t known, but City Hall is moving to “permanently” bar the organization from getting city contracts, according to Ferguson. He said it forged “two letters purportedly from major lending institutions” and provided them to the city in a failed effort to “fraudulently obtain” a $1 million city subsidy.

Though the application was rejected by the city’s Department of Housing and Economic Development, that agency reported the matter to the city Law Department rather than to the inspector general, which is required by city ordinance, Ferguson noted.

Ferguson said that when he suggested specific “investigative techniques” to gather evidence for criminal prosecution, top officials in the Housing and Economic Development “initially agreed but changed their minds at the last second.” That effectively eliminating the possibility that the matter could be pursued criminally, the inspector general wrote.

In another case, previously reported by the Chicago Sun-Times, Ferguson wrote that he wanted the city’s $142,464-a-year Snow Command chief, Bobby Richardson, fired for ordering his underlings to pick up and deliver cigars and keep his personal car washed and filled with gas. Instead, Streets and Sanitation Commissioner Tom Byrne suspended Richardson for 25 days but let him keep his job.

Byrne also ordered 10-day suspensions for two other employees who were chauffeured to and from work and a three-day suspension for one of the city workers who did the driving.

And Byrne discontinued a so-called “shuttle program” that had long allowed designated city workers to park at a city facility in the Loop and be shuttled to City Hall by a city employee.

City Hall sources identified Paul Hansen, son of former Ald. Bernard Hansen (44th), as the water management employee whose supervisors bent the rules and allowed him to keep working even after losing his driver’s license for an extended period of time as a result of an off-duty DUI.

The quarterly report also talks about several cases new allegations of alleged minority contracting fraud and about the case of a Department of Finance employee who resigned shortly after the inspector general discovered that the worker was living in a south suburb — a violation of the city’s residency requirement.

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