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 indictments.
Most recently Zekman, and her producer Dan Blom, have exposed dangerous cab 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 to drive a cab.
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. Fifty five 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 has indicted 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 our 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 worked undercover in restaurants to document disgusting conditions and critical violations that can make customers sick.