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IG Report: Tollway Supervisor Fired For Third Time

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CHICAGO (STMW) – An Illinois Tollway maintenance supervisor fired and rehired twice was recently fired for a third time for sleeping on the job and intimidating employees, according to a report by the Illinois Tollway’s Office of the Inspector General.

The report also mentioned a Tollway call center employee who was negotiating with callers to take money in exchange for reducing or dismissing toll violations and fines.

The Inspector General’s office issued its report Thursday summarizing activity for October 2012 through March 2013. During that period, the office opened 14 full investigations and closed 16.

The investigation of the supervisor found sleeping was initiated on March 27, 2012, after the office got information from an elected official, the report said. The supervisor had originally been hired in 2000 and terminated in 2001 for arguing with and head-butting a co-worker.

Rehired in 2002, the employee was again terminated in 2004 after a drug test turned up positive following an accident involving a Tollway vehicle and other infractions. But that person was rehired again in 2005 following arbitration.

The investigation confirmed the sleeping on the job accusation, and also said the supervisory manner utilized by the employee was described by employees as intimidating, threatening, abusive, condescending, and loud, the report said.

Assignments of work, particularly to older staff, was described as unsafe and discriminatory, and created a hostile work environment. Threats to create and issue false disciplinary reports as punishment were also alleged.

The supervisor was placed on suspension effective Nov. 27, 2012 and was terminated in February 2013. The report does not name the employees mentioned in investigations.

On Feb. 21, the OIG was notified by management at the Tollway IPass call center that a call-taker had offered to negotiate an off-line settlement with a patron for violations, the report said. The call-taker wanted to meet with the caller to negotiate payment for the violations.

An investigation determined the call-taker had negotiated previous meetings with patrons to receive cash for dismissing or reducing fines and/or violations, the report said. The call-taker was confronted and confessed to receiving more than $4,000 cash for removing fines, tolls and violations.

The call-taker was terminated by the employment agency contracted to fill those positions at the call center, and the investigation has been referred for prosecution to the DuPage County States Attorney’s office.

According to the report and a release by the Tollway, two cases involved fraudulent checks presented for payment on a Tollway bank account used to process refund payments to I-PASS customers when they close their accounts.

In both cases, the banks reimbursed the Tollway for the fraudulent checks and there was no financial loss to the agency, the release said. The Tollway said no Tollway employees were involved and the agency has made program changes and strengthened internal controls to reduce the risk of future check fraud.

Another case was a joint investigation with the Illinois State Police Medicaid Fraud Unit involving a Tollway employee who submitted false timesheets claiming care for another individual in order to obtain Medicaid reimbursement funds.

That employee resigned from the Tollway and theft charges are currently pending, the release said.

Another case involved a toll collector’s workers’ compensation claim and extended leave of absence.

There are currently 14 cases open, according to the release. The OIG reported receiving 34 complaints from citizens and 25 of those have been closed.

(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2013. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)