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Streets & San Supervisor Cited for Writing Phony Tickets

By Ted Cox | October 18, 2013 5:19pm
 Inspector General Joseph Ferguson says a Streets and Sanitation supervisor claimed to issue tickets on days off.
Inspector General Joseph Ferguson says a Streets and Sanitation supervisor claimed to issue tickets on days off.
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CITY HALL — A Department of Streets and Sanitation supervisor resigned after being cited for writing phony tickets, according to the latest report from the city inspector general.

The quarterly report issued this week by Inspector General Joseph Ferguson said the tickets for violations of the sanitation code were submitted with photos not taken on the day of the citation — and sometimes on days when the employee was off.

The investigation by the Office of the Inspector General found the supervisor wrote 25 tickets with photos used to support previous tickets. Of those, 12 tickets were paid by the cited businesses or individuals.

The report said the citations "falsely certified that the pictures were true and accurate depictions" of the conditions, a violation of city policy.

The city Department of Law said it is not pursuing collection of the phony tickets and is mailing refund applications to those who paid the fines.

Streets & San confirmed the OIG's findings, and the supervisor resigned "in lieu of discharge," according to the report. The employee was also designated as being ineligible for additional city hiring.

"The Department of Streets and Sanitation took swift and appropriate action upon receiving the IG's investigative report and prior to the release of its quarterly report," said department spokesman Bill McCaffrey. "To that end, DSS agreed with the IG’s recommendation for discharge and were in process to complete termination when the employee resigned in lieu of discharge."

McCaffrey said the tickets were "primarily written for improper maintenance of refuse containers by businesses," with fines of $200 to $500.

By law, the OIG is charged with delivering regular reports on its activities, but is not permitted to reveal the names of those cited unless it results in public charges of wrongdoing.

The report, which covered July through September of this year, also cited a "senior official" in the Chicago Police Department who "made intentionally false and deliberately incomplete material statements to the OIG while under oath."

The report did not reveal the nature of the investigation, but argued that "because such misconduct irreparably tainted the senior official's credibility and may have disqualified the senior official from effectively executing the duties of a sworn officer," the OIG recommended that the senior official be terminated and deemed ineligible for hire.

The case was referred to the department's Internal Affairs Division, which confirmed the misconduct and also recommended firing. The police officer resigned under inquiry.

Sources said, however, the investigation had nothing to do with the continuing case over the death of David Koschman, killed in a 2004 struggle with Richard Vanecko, nephew of former Mayor Richard M. Daley.

The report also returned to a case of firefighters filing excessive mileage reimbursement reports dating back to the Daley administration. In 2011, the inspector general found a systematic excess in the 2009 mileage reports and recommended 54 firefighters be terminated. The Chicago Fire Department fired four and handed out suspensions to 46 others, while four resigned. An arbitrator, however, overturned those firings and suspensions, as the practice was "longstanding" and "widespread."

This year, the Department of Law tried to recover those excessive reimbursements, but according to the report the firefighters' union fought that as double jeopardy, prosecuting employees for charges they'd already confronted. Again, an arbitrator accepted the employees' argument and ruled against the repayments.

Ferguson's reports have frequently taken issue with overturned firings and suspensions in arbitration rulings involving the Police and Fire departments.

Just this week, the City Council confirmed a new four-year term for Ferguson as inspector general.