#231 Aug 20, 2013
Ex-School Official Faces Detention
August 19, 2013 02:40 PM
Following BGA/CBS2 investigation, suburban school treasurer is charged with stealing more than $1.5 million in taxpayer money. He faces jail time if convicted.
By Robert Herguth/BGA
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A politically connected school finance official from the western suburbs has been charged with two felonies for allegedly embezzling more than $1.5 million from his taxpayer-funded agency over the past two decades.
The charges, announced last week, follow an in-depth investigation by the Better Government Association and CBS2 last year that found a series of alarming financial practices at the public agency, the Lyons Township School Treasurer's office, under then-leader Robert Healy.
The agency is little-known but hugely important because it invests and manages more than $200 million in tax money for a dozen or so public school districts in the west suburbs, including La Grange, Western Springs and Willow Springs.
As part of a months-long investigation, the BGA and CBS2 found that Healy:
Hired investment advisers that in turn donated money to a campaign fund he controlled.
Permitted investments that may have violated state law.
Had no discernible financial expertise but deep political connections.
Operated with little oversight from his agency's elected board or the school districts his agency was serving.
Ran his agency with no annual budget to guide spending.
In recently filed court papers related to Healy's criminal charges Ė theft of governmental property, and official misconduct Ė prosecutors stated:
"Starting in fiscal year 1989-1990, and continuing through April 20, 2012, Defendant added unauthorized compensation to his bi-monthly paychecks, or otherwise issued himself additional salary and benefits totaling $630,346.78. Additionally, Defendant made 105 unauthorized wire transfers out of the Lyons Township Schools' account at Amalgamated Bank in to his personal bank account at Northern Trust Bank from February 26, 2002 through April 21, 2011, totaling $900,853.32. Also Defendant made an unauthorized wire transfer on July 11, 2011 in the amount of $7,547.51 to Infiniti of Orland Park toward the down payment on a lease of his personal vehicle, a 2012 Infiniti M37X. The total of the 106 unauthorized wire transfers =$908,400.83. The total of all unauthorized payments (by check and by wire) to Defendant or on his behalf =$1,538,747.61 ..."
A prosecutor also wrote that "the prospect of the victim school districts ever recouping said monies from Defendant is negligible."
Healy, 54, faces up to 30 years in prison if convicted. He's expected back in court next month.
He could not be reached for comment.
#232 Aug 20, 2013
The BGA previously reported Healy has longstanding ties to aging political powerbroker Morgan Finley, an 11th Ward stalwart who later served as Democratic committeeman in Lyons Township and the Cook County Circuit Court Clerk Ė until a corruption conviction ended his career more than 20 years ago.
Finley helped get Healy hired into the treasurer's job back in the late 1980s, according to inside sources.
The BGA released a statement on Healy's arrest last week, noting there's blame to go around for this situation getting so far out of hand.
"The BGA is pleased that prosecutors took this case seriously, and rooted out alleged misconduct within the Lyons Township School Treasurer's Office. Even though small, the treasurer's office is a hugely important agency that handles many millions of dollars destined for the education of public school children. The BGA has said before that, aside from any alleged improprieties by now-former treasurer Robert Healy, this case was disturbing because the board that was elected to oversee Healy was clearly asleep at the switch Ė as were most of the school districts that should have been keeping a better eye on their money. There's plenty of blame to go around."
"We look forward to seeing how this criminal matter progresses through the court system, and to suburban school officials learning a valuable lesson about financial responsibility."
The school treasurer's office has instituted a number of reforms since Healy resigned under fire last year. But the agency ignored certain recommendations from the BGA, including that two board members resign for failing to keep better tabs on Healy.
#233 Aug 20, 2013
There are too many ways for money and assets to disappear, too many watch dogs sleeping. Better regulations have got to be put in place. The Tax Payers are fed up and can't continue to cover all the hands in the cookie jar. Look at your most recent tax bill and see exactly who gets the bulk of the tax bill. Stories like this make me sick, it is one thing to pay for our kids education but another when highly paid administrators feel they are entitld to steal from them. These funds will most likely never be recovered.
#234 Aug 24, 2013
Strick over sight is needed to monitor the funds and eliminate the toxic "the good old boy network!"
#235 Sep 3, 2013
How A $200 Million Township School Treasurerís Office Stuck It To Taxpayers
September 1, 2013 07:53 PM
Most journalists donít tend to think along mathematical lines.
By Andy Shaw/BGA
Most journalists donít tend to think along mathematical lines.
Itís the "right brain" thing that makes us decent writers, but not, thankfully, designers of bridges or nuclear power plants.
So I was surprised when an old geometry lesson on concentric circles came to mind in connection with a Better Government Association investigation.
For math-challenged readers, concentric circles are "circles within circles" that share a center point.
The image ó a dot ringed by a series of circles ó seems to perfectly illustrate a corruption story in Lyons Township, where a tiny government agency called the Lyons Township School Treasurerís office manages and invests 200 million tax dollars for more than a dozen west suburban school districts, including La Grange, Western Springs and Willow Springs.
For 20-plus years a politically connected bureaucrat named Robert Healy ruled supreme. He was the appointed treasurer ó technically reporting to an elected, three-member board ó but in reality doing what he wanted.
And what he wanted was to pocket money he wasnít entitled to, according to the Cook County prosecutors who recently charged him with two felonies for allegedly embezzling more than $1.5 million over the years.
The criminal investigation followed a BGA probe that identified egregious and possibly illegal practices at the agency: Healy approving investments that may have violated state law, and accepting campaign cash from outside investment advisors.
Healy had no apparent financial expertise, but good connections, including political "godfather" Morgan Finley, a graduate of the Daley political organization and one-time Cook County official who engineered Healyís appointment to the school treasurerís office before going to jail for corruption.
One of the more shocking revelations about Healy: He didnít keep a budget.
More than 200 million tax dollars coming in and going out for expenses, consultants and salaries, but no annual spending plan?
So whoís to blame?
Enter the concentric circles.
Letís say the center point represents the general public ó the folks who always get screwed by the scammers.
The surrounding circles represent various layers of culpability, with Healy obviously filling the innermost orb because of his alleged malfeasance.
The next ring is for the treasurerís office trustees who were elected to supervise Healy but apparently missed the memo.
They let him run amok, and so far they havenít been held accountable.
In fact, amid the scandalous revelations, one was even elected a Cook County judge.
And where were the accountants in charge of the books? One is a longtime Healy associate who signed off on the financials, claiming everything was swell. Another circle.
Add a circle for the officeís attorney, who, as far as we can tell, didnít raise any red flags and is still on the payroll, collecting generous fees.
The next ring represents school districts that paid little or no attention to how their money was being handled by Healy.
And finally, district taxpayers deserve their own circle ó the outermost ring ó for failing to show up at the school treasurerís public meetings or ask the right questions.
It adds up to a lot of misconduct, ineptitude and squandered money that should have been used to educate students.
But it wasnít, because the grownups in charge were running around in circles.
And even someone with right-brain tendencies can figure that one out.
Andy Shaw is President & CEO of the Better Government Association. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.Twitter @andyshawbga.
#236 Oct 8, 2013
District 186 Employee Accused Of Stealing From Activity Fund
Posted 2013-10-08 16:20:00 by WMAY News
A District 186 employee is accused of stealing a significant amount of money from an activity fund at Southeast High School.†
A press release from the district says the theft was discovered during a routine audit... and State Police were called.† The district says the employee has not been arrested yet while the investigation continues, but has been suspended without pay pending formal charges.† The district will also seek to recover the stolen money, but so far is not saying how much is missing.†
The thefts are believed to have occurred over the past year, but investigators are now looking more closely at the school's funds to see if there are other discrepancies.
#237 Oct 14, 2013
All of the school districts require regular ongoing strict oversight!
#238 Nov 5, 2013
Kids should actually know how to read before they arrive in high school. Parents should also be responsible for their own kid's education and behavior! Parents are the primary educators in their children's lives.....take responsibility, stop blaming others!
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