Pulitzer-prize winning reporter Pam Zekman serves on CBS 2 Chicago’s investigative team, a position she has held since 1981. During that time, her thorough investigations have earned every major award in television reporting and resulted in governmental reforms and criminal convictions.
Most recently Zekman, exposed massive Medicare fraud by companies selling various back, leg and arm braces to patients that did not want them or need them. She also exposed misleading sales pitches by doctors claiming unproven stem cell treatments could relieve pain and cure diseases, charging thousands of dollars for injections.
Zekman and her producer Dan Blom have also exposed dangerous cab drivers and bus drivers with long histories of moving traffic violations and accidents, including some that injured or killed pedestrians or passengers. The reports resulted in a major overhaul in the way the city tracks their driving records and toughened enforcement efforts to suspend or revoke their licenses.
Another investigation exposed fraud in the federal multi-million dollar free and reduced school lunch program meant to feed low-income children. Zekman found Chicago Public School teachers and administrators falsified free lunch application forms to show their children qualified even though their parents’ income disqualified them. A total of 55 CPS employees have been suspended or fired.
The owners of million dollar homes taxed for years as vacant land were highlighted in another Zekman investigation that exposed systemic failures by the Cook County Assessor’s office. A review of all vacant land in Cook County was ordered and procedures changed to help ensure that everyone pays their fair share of property taxes. Other stories exposed how property owners claimed exemptions they weren’t entitled to, saving thousands of dollars in taxes. Legislation was proposed to crack down on the abuses.
Towing companies that chase business at car accident scenes, ripping off vulnerable accident victims with fraudulent and inflated charges, were exposed in another investigation. Some of that money was used to pay off cops who steered them accident business, according to a federal undercover investigation that resulted in indictments and convictions of ten officers so far. New state regulations were passed to protect consumers.
Over the years Zekman’s investigations have exposed government waste by city, county, and state employees who were suspended or fired after they were caught with hidden cameras at home, in bars, asleep, or playing golf when they should have been at work. Some highly paid pay rollers were misused by their bosses to work as their chauffeurs, run personal errands for their bosses, or as party planners.
Another investigation documented $40 million of waste at the Chicago Board of Education and resulted in sweeping changes in the way contracts are awarded, along with the conviction of contractors and school officials, including a former school board president.
An undercover investigation of Medicaid and Medicare fraud resulted in the convictions of dozens of doctors, pharmacists, and the operators of a chain of medical clinics. Several reports on dangerous doctors repeatedly sued for performing unnecessary surgeries, or malpractice that injured or killed their patients resulted in reforms by state regulators.
Zekman’s team also worked undercover in restaurants to document disgusting conditions and critical violations that can make customers sick.
Restaurants with years of repeated failed inspections were allowed to remain in business under a broken enforcement system that was reformed by the city health department.
She also exposed the dangerous cult behind a national chain of martial arts schools. The schools were shut down and the cult leaders convicted of a major tax fraud.