Tollway: Up to $25,000 Stolen By Employees
Money returned to tollway, disciplinary action planned.
From the Illinois Tollway:
DOWNERS GROVE, IL – The Illinois Tollway’s Office of the Inspector General today issued its second report summarizing activity for April through September 2011. In all, 24 cases were opened and 20 were closed. Investigations involved theft by toll collectors, employee benefits abuse and an employee improperly conducting outside employment during Tollway hours.
“The Illinois Tollway has zero tolerance for theft or misuse of public funds,” said Illinois Tollway Executive Director Kristi Lafleur. “We have worked swiftly to refer cases to the Inspector General when inconsistencies and complaints arise and will continue to crack down on employees who try to steal from the Tollway to the fullest extent possible.”
Many instances of wrongdoing were referred to the Office of the Inspector General by the Tollway’s management team. Based on these findings, all employees involved in thefts have either resigned or been terminated by the Tollway, and a total of $25,500 in restitution has been returned to the Tollway during the past six months. In addition, all cases that qualify are forwarded to the appropriate state’s attorney for criminal prosecution.
“This report shows that the Inspector General’s Office is doing exactly what it was created to do – investigate claims of waste, abuse, mismanagement and misconduct,” said Illinois Tollway Board Chair Paula Wolff. “The Tollway Board members are pleased with the progress, not only in terms of cases opened and closed, but also in our efforts to be open, transparent and accountable to the public.”
Twelve cases involved thefts in which employees either collected toll payments and kept the money or allowed drivers to travel without paying and then incorrectly classified the vehicles as emergency vehicles to cover up the thefts. The unusually high number of emergency vehicles was identified by the Toll Audit section of the Internal Audit Department and forwarded to the Office of the Inspector General for further investigation.
In addition, the Inspector General is preparing an evaluation of toll collection processes including suggestions for potential improvements to ensure that the abuse of emergency vehicle classification cannot occur in the future. Preliminary recommendations from the Inspector General include: implementing additional weekly toll collection audits to monitor emergency vehicles and any other unusual occurrences, providing toll collectors and toll plaza supervisors with updated manuals and additional training and requiring toll collection supervisors to meet monthly to ensure toll plazas are complying with all regulations.
Other investigations resulted in disciplinary action against two employees collecting benefits for which they did not qualify and termination of one employee who was conducting non-Tollway business during work hours and misusing a non-revenue transponder.
“Working hand-in-hand with the Tollway, we have been successful in investigating, disciplining and, in some cases, prosecuting toll collectors to the full extent of the law,” said Illinois Tollway Inspector General James Wagner.
There are no recommended administrative actions or matters for consideration by the Governor, the Tollway Board of Directors and the General Assembly since all issues developed were appropriately addressed by Tollway management and the Inspector General.
The Office of the Inspector General also received 20 complaints from citizens. Altogether, 26 citizen complaints, including carryover from the Inspector General’s previous report, have been resolved in this six-month reporting period.
A copy of the complete report is available to view or download at www.illinoistollway.com.