Wheaton Patch accepts and publishes letters to the editor emailed to Local Editor Charlotte Eriksen at Charlotte@patch.com, or sent as a message through the Wheaton Patch Facebook page. Please note in subject lines the message is a Letter to the Editor.
Former DuPage Forest Preserve employees were charged yesterday with official misconduct, theft, taking kickbacks and unlawful participation in a scheme that allegedly defrauded taxpayers of over a hundred thousand dollars. A scheme that developed over the course of six years at the government agency, DuPage taxpayers are left today without official answers as to how payments for services unperformed and goods not delivered were still being paid.
Taxpayers may have to wait until after the election to see the payment records in this legal case. Payments for completed work are approved by leadership at the DuPage Forest Preserve. Former Preserve District Executive Director Manning’s early retirement announcement on May 18, 2012 coincided with the District informing the public it would not abide by the Illinois Attorney General’s request to release records detailing payments made to Alamach Technologies, Inc., one of the companies used by the employees to accomplish their alleged theft. The now-sealed payment records indicate how nearly a half of a million dollars were authorized by the District in the alleged scheme to defraud taxpayers.
Commissioner candidate Leopoldo stated, “In short, there is little to no oversight and they’re trying to avoid accountability.”
The environment for fraudulent activity was encouraged by the DuPage Forest Preserve’s procurement policy, established nearly a quarter century ago in 1988. The policy does not require the disclosure of subcontractors or the disclosure of owners during the bid process, as required by most other agencies throughout the State. There is no provision to disclose a conflict of interest and professional service contracts are not mentioned in the policy. The District rarely solicits requests for proposals for professional services, opening the door for fraudulent activity with insiders steering contracts to companies like Alamach and their undisclosed subcontractors. The Forest Preserve District of DuPage County does not have an ethics committee.
It shouldn’t take an FBI investigation to inspire commissioners to lead on these issues. It’s time to update the procurement policy, organize an ethics committee, and have elected leaders who will protect our tax dollars.
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