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August 7, 2022

Lightning Strikes Shelby County Board Meeting – Apology Owed To The Treasurer

By Kirk Allen & John Kraft

On October 16, 2021

Shelby Co. (ECWd) –

For the last two years, the Shelby County Treasurer has been exposing numerous issues of malfeasance as it relates to payroll issues in the County, only to be ignored.  After overwhelming public outcry for almost a year, the board approved a forensic audit for the Sheriff’s office. As a reminder, that is the same office where the Sheriff admitted to deputies getting paid for 80 hours while only working 70 and was selling seized weapons in violation of law, which is pending a criminal charging decision that we suspect will never come. We covered that in this article.

The Forensic Auditor provided the lightning bolt to the board in a brief preliminary update on the forensic audit and it became clear the board would have been better off listening to their elected treasurer’s cries to fix the problems rather than trying to remove her from office and bashing her integrity.  I did not hear a single issue raised by the auditor that had not been raised by the treasurer over the last two years.

From the auditor:

  • “I was shocked”
  • “You guys are ripe for fraud”
  • “You make it very very easy for somebody to defraud the county”
  • “$4.4 million over 6 years”

The tone of the meeting was noticeably different after the auditor’s presentation, which can be viewed below.  While some board members will ignore the points made, others will appreciate the impact of the auditor’s words.  The following glaring issues jumped out at us.

  • The FOP contract had numerous problems which call into question the work performed by the so-called expert union contract attorney Ed Flynn who was hired by the Board and current State’s attorney.
  • The current payroll policy is not being followed, a point raised by the treasurer for months and the board has ignored taking steps to establish proper enforcement.
  • The decentralized process used is ripe for fraud.  Let’s not forget board member Swits led the board down the path to further decentralize payroll by farming it out to a company in the Chicago area.  Never mind it’s improper to hire a private contractor to do the work of an elected official.  The case law on that is still valid.
  • The very “ripe for fraud” issue raised is what led to our first FOIA for courthouse video that would show if a person was really coming into work and getting paid when they were not at work.  While the Sheriff failed to provide the video as required by law, we later confirmed numerous violations of law were taking place, and rather than charging the person they let her resign.  We covered that in this article.
  • The “ripe for fraud” issues are not new as the standard audit has pointed out some of these issues and the board has done nothing to correct those findings.
  • Going to 4 ten-hour days without amending the contract results in 8 hours of overtime in the 40-hour workweek rather than zero overtime for the same 40 hours.  A fact ignored by the board even after it was first exposed.
  • IMRF, Social Security, SHLEP, Medicare/Medicaid, Department of Labor, and others over and underpaid.  
  • Potential financial issues from other government agencies for the ongoing malfeasance.  A fact raised numerous times by the treasurer and ignored by numerous board members. 

The final report is expected in November or December and it should contain the financial numbers which could result in financial liability to employees or expose overpayments to those employees which means the board gave money away with zero accountability.

While there were plenty of other newsworthy matters that took place in this meeting, we will cover those in a separate article.

The forensic auditor presentation is where the video is set to begin but you can watch the entire meeting by starting from the beginning.

 

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5 Comments
  • Dave
    Posted at 14:51h, 16 October

    God bless the Treasurer for standing tall!

  • Darrel W. Bruck Jr.
    Posted at 16:25h, 16 October

    We have the same type o situation here in Kankakee County. County financial information is kept from the elected auditor in violation of state statues. The auditor has had to sue the county but it is stalled in court. $8,000,000 in taxpayer funded county savings disappeared due to then sheriff Tim Bukowsky and then corrections chief Mike Downey over spending their budges by millions for 3 years in a row. It got so bad the county could not meet payroll. Had to ask banks for a loan. All the banks turn them down except one. who happened to have a highly place official who was related to Mike Downey. This bank has now gone out of business because of all the bad loans on its books. Bukowsky retired and guess what Downy retired too at full pension and then was appointed Sheriff so now he is double dipping. The current sheriff Mike Downey is still giving the finger to the auditor when he tries’ to get financial information and so does county board chairman Andy Wheeler. The auditor is a great concervative fomer U. S. military and he get paid for doing almost nothing because he is not allowed to.. They will not work with him and the court is dragging their feet with the case hoping the auditor will give up.

    • PK
      Posted at 22:31h, 17 October

      In my opinion, the Illinois court system woefully lags other states. And some courts are still reliant on over-processing with physical paper instead of electronic documents. Not that that’s any excuse for excessive delay in the Kankakee County Auditor’s case. The selfish status quo there in Kankakee county is reluctant to give up a duty that belongs in the Auditor’s office.

  • PK
    Posted at 18:10h, 16 October

    Boy oh boy does the corrections officer who spoke as a member of the public body at the September board meeting look silly now.

    So the ‘solution’ to the poor farm opportunity is for a Shelby County resident to petition the state legislature? Wow! And that supportive ‘just a question’ comment. Wow! It’s the everybody else is doing it so why can’t we ‘reasoning’ still being put forward.

  • jannie
    Posted at 15:11h, 17 October

    Good for the treasurer for doing their job. Not to justify the County Board – but often times – they won’t pay attention to the “local”, but when an outside hire (fornesic (sp) auditor) says the same thing they believe it. Hopefully some things will now be straightened out.

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