(CBS) — There are sweeping changes in one Chicago suburb after the 2 Investigators exposed wasteful spending of federal drug money on cars, motorcycles and even a boat.
Now, a newly elected mayor is revealing more about what went on in the village of Willow Springs.
Stashed in storage is a goldmine of expensive police vehicles purchased with federal asset forfeiture funds. The money was a result of seized assets during drug arrest cases made by the Drug Enforcement Agency, says new mayor John Carpino.
Carpino, who took office in May, saw for the first time some of the vehicles that were purchased with the money.
More than $67,000 was spent to buy two barely used Harley Davidsons motorcycles and upgrade them with new wheels, chrome and heated handgrips. There is also a Camaro, expensive All-Terrain Vehicles, and a trailer to transport the motorcycles.
Carpino calls them examples of wasteful spending by former village officials.
“This is a luxury and a misuse of federal spending,” the mayor says.
A former police chief himself, he agrees with a federal audit that questioned $828,762 in spending for the police department, including nearly $300,000 for a boat.
Sources tell CBS2 the boat was barely used for law enforcement, but it was used for pleasure cruises — even taken down a canal to the taste of Chicago.
“There was guidelines on how the money was to be used, and if you had any questions there was a booklet on how to spend the money,” says Carpino, who believes he’s found what he considers to be other questionable spending, too.
He found the village was funding a defamation lawsuit filed by the now-former police chief and three other employees. They are suing private individuals for comments made on a Facebook page, but the lawsuit was being financed by Willow Springs taxpayers — $60,000 billed in just the last six months.
Pat Stryszak is one of the people named the in suit. She defended her social media comments about the past administration and was concerned when she learned taxpayers were footing the bill for the lawsuit.
“I think everyone has a right to see what is going on and to have access to what’s being paid,” she says.
Carpino says he’s concerned and that the village is millions of dollars in debt. He is conducting a full-scale review of past spending.
He is trying to see if there is a way to eventually sell the vehicles purchased with the drug money and use those funds for things the police department really needs, like more officers.
“Someone had to speak up for the town of willow springs and make a change,” he says.