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Forest Preserve Files Civil Action to Recover Taxpayer Dollars

Forest Preserve District of DuPage County files civil action to recover stolen taxpayer dollars in an alleged scheme of two former employees.

Attorneys for the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County filed a civil action in court today seeking to recover all taxpayer dollars possible related to alleged crimes by criminally charged ex-employees as well as an ex-vendor, according to a press release from the forest preserve.
 
The complaint for declaratory judgment was filed in DuPage County Circuit Court as DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert Berlin on Wednesday Mark McDonald and Dave Tepper, and Arif Mahmood from the computer vendor company Alamach Technologies, Inc.

Authorities say the men planned to bilk the forest preserve of about $150,000. In their first plan, involving McDonald's and Tepper's company Integrated Design Solutions, the two former employees billed and received more than $90,000 from the forest preserve for equipment and services that were never delivered from July 20, 2005 to November 7, 2011, according to a release from the DuPage County State's Attorney.

In the second scheme, officials say Mahmood acted as an employee of Alamach Technology Inc., and overbilled the forest preserve for contracted work from February 25, 2010 through November 7, 2011. He then subcontracted with Integrated Design Solutions in the amount overbilled for services that were never rendered, netting McDonald and Tepper more than $64,000 in kickbacks, according to the release.

Berlin asked the forest preserve to wait to file in court until his office completed its investigation, according to the release from the forest preserve district.

Dewey Pierotti Jr., president of the board of the Forest Preserve District said in a statement, “We want to make sure we take every step possible to recover every dollar possible for taxpayers."

Forest preserve administrators first detected suspicious activity of McDonald, Tepper and Alamach, in 2011 and hired a computer forensics expert to investigate, according to the release.

attorneys are seeking to void the contracts with Alamach Industries and asking the judge to hold a hearing to determine an amount that potentially could be returned to the District and taxpayers, according to the release.
 
Since turning the matter over to the State’s Attorney in late 2011, the Forest Preserve District has been working with the State’s Attorney’s office as well as the FBI to assist in the investigation. The FBI was brought in because of its forensic computer expertise. No charges have been brought against the District or any remaining elected officials or employees.

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Police Blotter information is provided by . Charges are not evidence of guilt. They are a record of police actions taken on a given day, and persons charged with a crime are presumed innocent until proven guilty in court. If you or a family member are charged or cited and the case is subsequently adjudicated, we encourage you to notify the editor. We will verify and report the outcome.

SteveforDuPage September 06, 2012 at 05:21 PM
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.
SteveforDuPage September 06, 2012 at 05:28 PM
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.

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