Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Grand Jury Hands Down 317 Felony Indictments Following Investigation of IT Contracts at Forest Preserve District of DuPage County; Crickets Chirping


A grand jury handed down a total of 317 felony indictments to three men last week following an investigation of information technology (IT) contracts at the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County, Circuit Court on-line records disclosed.

The District's former director of its IT department, Mark McDonald, and the department manager, David Tepper, were each charged with 140 felony counts, while a third man, Arif Mahmood, who worked for Alamach Technology, Inc., an IT vendor for the district, was charged with 37 counts.

The charges were handed down on Oct. 31st and filed the following day, yet to date, there has been no public announcement of this staggering number of indictments by the DuPage County State's Attorney's office.

Lending perspective to these numbers, former Gov. George Ryan had 18 felony indictments in 2003 and former Gov. Rod Blagojevich had "only" 16 counts in 2009.

The majority of felony charges listed against McDonald and Tepper include "accepting a kickback," "unlawful participation," "official misconduct - performing a forbidden act," and "theft by deception with intent to deprive." Charges against Mahmood consist mostly of "accepting a kickback" with one count each of "theft by deception with intent to deprive" and "official misconduct - accepting bribe to influence public officials, public employees, juror or witness."

Superseding indictment charges of "conspiracy" were also issued for theft, unlawful participation, and kickbacks between Feb. 25, 2010 and Oct. 25, 2011 "at and within DuPage County."

Despite the 149 "accepting kickback" felony counts, there are no charges of providing kickbacks, suggesting that at least one other party has yet to be disclosed.

Additional Background Reported Last Week by CountyLeaks...

Local government citizen watchdogs claim vendors contracted by the Forest Preserve District to conduct this internal IT investigation and to handle the crisis strategies surrounding the criminal charges have connections with the DuPage State's Attorney's office which are too close for comfort. The District's hiring of a finance director this year also bring concerns of a conflict of interest with the County's prosecutor.

JRM Consulting, Inc. of Naperville, was contracted in 2011 to conduct an audit of the District's IT Department.  Unknown to the public and not mentioned in their contract was the true scope of work -- to conduct an "internal computer forensics investigation" at the Forest Preserve.  The results of the months long investigation was presented to the State's Attorney's office on Nov. 21, 2011.

Invoices submitted to the DuPage Forest Preserve District in 2011 show that Vince Durante, son of local GOP-top brass Pat Durante engaged in the "internal investigation" with JRM which led to the indictments, inflaming more concerns of fairness and justice due to the District's historic political ties with the DuPage State's Attorney's office, as reported in CountyLeaks.

The State of Illinois database reports that Vincent Durante of DuPage County is also an employee of the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) as a "technical manager V" with a salary of $81,183.07. He was featured recently in the ABC-7 News Special Segment, "Road Warriors", using high-tech tools to fix potholes. His hourly rate at IDOT averages $39 per hour while JRM billed the Forest Preserve District $150 per hour for Durante's services.

Pat Durante has served on the Board of Directors of the Regional Transit Authority since his appointment in 1995 and chairs the RTA's Audit Committee.

Vince Durante worked in some capacity for JRM Consulting. JRM's owner is Jerry Marquardt. No information can be located on-line showing that JRM or Durante have expertise or licenses to conduct forensic investigations -- a specialized field usually involving advanced training and certification.

JRM has been paid $38,000 since 1999 for political consulting in Illinois, including payment of over $14,000 for goods and services by Citizens to Elect Joe Birkett; the former state's attorney stepped down in November 2010 to accept an appointment to the Illinois appellate court, District 2.

The brother of Jerry is Scott Marquardt, owner of Marquardt & Co., of Wheaton.  Marquardt & Co. are lobbyists for both the office of DuPage County State's Attorney and the DuPage County Election Commission. Scott Marquardt and his wife, Barbara Skurka, team up at the law firm, Marquardt & Belmonte, also of Wheaton. Marquardt and Skurka are former assistant DuPage County State's Attorney. In fact, all seven attorneys listed at the firm cut their legal teeth at the same office that iprosecuting McDonald, Tepper and Mahmood.

One former assistant state's attorney working at Marquardt & Belmonte law firm and Roger C. Marquardt & Co.  -- Rick Veenstra of Addison -- has returned to the law enforcer's office as the Deputy Chief of the Civil Bureau and manager of its Governmental Affairs and Special Litigation Division.

On reports to the Illinois State Board of Elections, Barbara Skurka uses one of two last names -- Skurka or Marquardt. There is no hyphenation.

Skurka/Marquardt is reportedly the paid fundraiser for the campaign of current State's Attorney Bob Berlin. Since February 2011, Skurka/Marquardt has received $40,000 from Citizens for Bob Berlin for consulting. The campaign's paid treasurer is Jack Hogan, finance director of the Forest Preserve.

Skurka/Marquardt, Hogan and the Forest Preserve's contracted political strategists, Reverse Spin, were also paid for extensive political work for former DuPage State's Attorneys Joe Birkett and Jim Ryan; on various campaigns, Skurka/Marquardt has been paid a total of $376,000, Hogan $102,000 and Reverse Spin/Curry Public Strategies $260,000.

Click HERE for a photo of lobbyist Scott Marquardt with his clientele DuPage County State's Attorney Bob Berlin and DuPage County Election Commission attorney Pat Bond.

CountyLeaks Asks:

When did the DuPage State's Attorney's office plan to announce the 317 felony indictments? Why wait on unveiling something which had already become public information?

Why did all the Forest Preserve commissioners approve payments to Alamach month after month after month without asking questions? Does CountyLeaks detect a lack of due diligence? And if the 317 felony indictments had come out just before the election, was there a risk voters might agree with CountyLeaks?

Who was providing the kick-backs which McDonald, Tepper and Mahmood are charged with accepting? 

Are there more indictments to come or are 317 nutty enough?

Was the grand jury informed of all the political ties of those working against the three men? 

What did the Forest Preserve officials do with all the data and email backup files stored on the disaster recovery equipment located off-site at Alamach? And what information might have been included within that data?

Is it possible that McDonald and Tepper had to be pushed out of the way to achieve another goal, ie: to protect their own?

Are McDonald, Tepper and Mahmood the real story here?  Or is there something else? Something much bigger perhaps?  Is this why the FBI has been sniffing around?

Did the Forest Preserve's contracted 24/7 political strategists wake up Dewey at 1 am to alert him of this latest blog story?