Monday, September 7, 2015

ONLY YOU Can Prevent Forest Liars: Cross-Examination of the All-Star Witnesses in the DuPage County Forest Preserve IT Case


Part OnePart TwoPart ThreePart FourPart FivePart SixPart SevenPart EightPart NinePart TenPart Eleven

Four years after the JRM's "investigation", three years after arrests, and nearly three years after 317 indictments were collectively passed down, the criminal bench trial of the former DuPage County Forest Preserve IT staff Mark McDonald and David Tepper, and the former contracted Forest Preserve vendor Arif Mahmood is scheduled to begin Sept. 14th at the Henry J. Hyde Judicial Office Facility in Wheaton before Judge Liam Brennan.

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." 

Former federal prosecutor Patrick Collins is defending Mr. Mahmood.

Now that the trial is about to launch, this blogger cannot resist ruminating about potential witnesses and what they'll probably be asked under cross-examination. CountyLeaks sought the professional opinion of highly-acclaimed, bulldog criminal defense expert Atty. Backup Ofthebackup (not in good standing at the DuPage Bar Association, unfortunately). Here's a sample of what we can expect next week:

Witness # 1  DuPage County Forest Preserve President Joe Cantore

Atty. Backup Ofthebackup: Mr. President, included in the charges is that the Forest Preserve Board and administration were unaware that employee David Tepper also owned and managed the small IT consulting firm, IDS. In fact, this is the basis of the alleged fraud scheme. How is this possible when you yourself had hired David and IDS for side work for you while you were a Forest Preserve commissioner?

Atty. Backup Ofthebackup: Mr. President, is this your signature on a check to IDS? This check? And this check? How 'bout this check?

Atty. Backup Ofthebackup: No further questions, your honor. I request a directed verdict from the court. I do not need to call any more witnesses, your honor, but since we're all here...

Witness # 2  Former DuPage County Forest Preserve President Dewey Pierotti

Atty. Backup Ofthebackup: Mr. Pierotti, why wasn't this entire matter handed over to law enforcement from Day One or even Forest Preserve security? Is it because it first had to be delicately controlled internally, ie: all evidence against you and your buddies shredded first?

Atty. Backup Ofthebackup: 
Mr. Pierotti, please stop staring down at the table and look at me. Did you freak out when you learned that the 2009 emails following the Oak Meadows clubhouse fire were archived off-site at Arif's company, Alamach Technologies, Inc.?

Atty. Backup Ofthebackup: In your position, surely you were informed of the Forest Preserve's sophisticated alarm system with battery backup for purposes of code and insurance. How often was this system tested? Was it connected with the computer system in the Forest Preserve's IT department? So let's say, hypothetically speaking of course, that if the alarm system had been disabled prior to the Oak Meadows clubhouse fire, that information would have been and captured in the database that was immediately wiped clean after obtaining Arif's equipment, prior to the matter going to the State's Attorney?

Atty. Backup Ofthebackup: Was this covert investigation cooked up because Mark, David and Arif were obstacles in destroying damning evidence still floating around following the Oak Meadows fire? Were they in the way in more ways than one? What was the total reimbursement from the insurance company again?

Atty. Backup Ofthebackup: So this was all about gaining access to the evidence you wanted destroyed, and if it meant that the very men who were in charge of maintaining and protecting Forest Preserve information would be wrongfully investigated and indicted to protect yourself and your cronies, so be it? 

Atty. Backup Ofthebackup: Your honor, I request a recess to allow the witness to compose himself. Should we call 911?

Witness # 3  Former DuPage County Forest Preserve Executive Director Brent Manning

Atty. Backup Ofthebackup: 
Mr. Manning, as executive director, you approved all invoices prior to payment. Is this your handwriting on the invoice for Alamach Technologies stamped Feb. 3, 2011, "Are all users on Archiving?" Please explain why this could be a concern at that time and why this started this sham...

Atty. Backup Ofthebackup: Yes, we know it's a beautiful day at the Forest Preserve. need to address the court like a radio announcer, Mr. Manning. Back to the invoice... 

Atty. Backup Ofthebackup: Were you aware in advance of the secret internal investigation beginning on the same day you left for an extended medical leave on July 27, 2011? Please elaborate on the connection between "Are all users on Archiving" on the Alamach invoice and the investigation which shortly followed. Take your time...

Atty. Backup Ofthebackup: Did you have anything to do about telling Mark to specifically destroy the 2009 emails on or before Oct. 26, 2011, which led him to send the snarky email seeking permission from the state first before destroying public records (as required by law)?

Atty. Backup Ofthebackup: Two months after the Forest Preserve handed the investigation over to the State's Attorney, on Jan. 12, 2012, you signed the request to the state to dispose of 815 cubic feet of records -- the size of 10 ft. by 10 ft. by 8 ft. room jammed to the ceiling. Did it ever occur to you that it might not be a good idea to destroy public records during a criminal investigation? Did you run this past the prosecutors or did they ever mention to you guys not to destroy any potential evidence? 

Atty. Backup Ofthebackup: As executive director, why didn't you have a chain of custody for Arif's equipment containing what would be described as the most crucial evidence of the case?

Atty. Backup Ofthebackup: Please explain why you abruptly resigned in May 2012. Was that a beautiful day at the Forest Preserve?

Witness # 4  Former DuPage Forest Preserve Human Resources Director Laura Capizzano

Atty. Backup Ofthebackup: Ms. Capizzano, if the Forest Preserve never had a policy on moonlighting, why are we here? 

Atty. Backup Ofthebackup: David Tepper was fired for moonlighting, yet you hired Troy Clampit to work in the same IT department. Clampit was a well-known political campaign vendor for DuPage Republicans, including elected officials at the Forest Preserve, and conducted side business well into six figures while at the Forest Preserve. You stated publicly in a Board meeting that it "wasn't a conflict". Thank you in advance for explaining the double standard. 

Atty. Backup Ofthebackup: When you opened an investigation of an employee of a suspected wrongdoing, did you usually keep it "top secret" or was it a good practice to notify the employee -- especially one in charge of maintaining expensive, sensitive and significant equipment and information -- and place that employee on paid leave pending the outcome of the investigation?

Witness # 5  DuPage Forest Preserve Finance Director, Overseer of DuPage Forest Preserve Human Resources and IT Departments & Paid Treasurer of DuPage County State's Attorney Bob Berlin...Jack Hogan

Atty. Backup Ofthebackup: Mr. Hogan, do you see any conflict of interest in your employment at the Forest Preserve and your employment with State's Attorney Bob Berlin during this investigation and prosecution?

Atty. Backup Ofthebackup: As overseer of the Forest Preserve's Human Resources Department, why haven't you prepared a policy on the abhorrent practice of moonlighting? Oh wait, that would mean you could no longer serve as treasurer for the prosecutors' boss...

Atty. Backup Ofthebackup: As overseer of the Forest Preserve's IT department, please describe for the court the policy on data archiving and disaster recovery. Is the Forest Preserve in compliance with federal and state laws for records retention? Do you have a backup of the backup?

Atty. Backup Ofthebackup: What expertise do you have in Human Resources and IT, or are political connections all that matter? Are you being groomed to be the next executive director or is Mark the Barber more qualified?

Witness # 6  Current DuPage County Forest Preserve Executive Director Mark the Barber

Atty. Backup Ofthebackup: Mark the Barber...may I call you Mark? No? Fine, Mark the Barber, how is it that you're running the show at the Forest Preserve these days? After all, you have none of the education or experience required for the position of executive director. Barber College isn't here on the list. How does this work and how are you compensated?

Atty. Backup Ofthebackup: Because you were given full access to the Forest Preserve, a privilege denied to even the Commissioners, and you seem to be everywhere, explain your role in this debacle starting from Day One.

Atty. Backup Ofthebackup: Mr. Pierotti publicly stated that you and he met with the contracted agency attorney several times at length, shortly before his death in 2012. Mr. Pierotti said that Forest Preserve matters were discussed. Tell the court what was discussed about this IT case, as there was no attorney-client privilege because you were a third party at that time and not executive director. Take your time, Mark the Barber.

Atty. Backup Ofthebackup: Oh I nearly forgot I was in DuPage County...I must make my obligatory contribution to the judge's campaign. Would you mind passing this brown bag as I've heard you provided this service along with hot towel shaves and shoe shines. Thanks. Hmm...think I could use a trim around the ears?

Witness # 7  JRM Consulting Owner, DuPage Republican Campaign Worker & Forest Preserve IT "Investigator" Jerry Marquardt

Atty. Backup Ofthebackup: Mr. Marquardt, with no license to conduct an investigation or providing Mark and David the true nature of why you were poking around, why were performing clandestine work at the Forest Preserve? Did anyone mention to you that this was.....illegal?

Atty. Backup Ofthebackup: What other investigations had you handled prior to the Forest Preserve, after all, forensics investigations is a specialized field usually involving advanced training and certification, or are political connections all that matterWhat character at the Forest Preserve brought you in and how did they present the project to you?

Atty. Backup Ofthebackup: Just so we are clear, your brother, Scott Marquardt, is your personal attorney as well as a former DuPage County prosecutor and the paid lobbyist of the DuPage County prosecutor of the three men on trial today, correct?

Atty. Backup Ofthebackup: Your honor, do you require a chart to keep all the political ties between the Forest Preserve and the State's Attorney's office straight?

Witness # 8  Technical Manager at the Illinois Department of Transportation, JRM Consulting's Moonlighting Subcontractor & Son of DuPage GOP Heavyweight, Vince Durante

Atty. Backup Ofthebackup: Mr. Durante, how did you juggle your day job as a road warrior at the Illinois Department of Transportation while working as a subcontractor of JRM Consulting, particularly during regular business hours? Did you inform IDOT of your moonlighting adventures?

Atty. Backup Ofthebackup: Why is it okay for you to moonlight and not David Tepper? 

Atty. Backup Ofthebackup: How much were you paid for the Forest Preserve IT covert investigation? Were you taking vacation days, sick days or personal days from IDOT?

Atty. Backup Ofthebackup: What forensics qualifications do you possess to work on secret internal investigations or are political connections all that matterWhat human resources qualifications do you possess to be included in the personal and confidential exit interview of one of the defendants?

Witness # 9  JRM Consulting's Mysterious Subcontractor "James Y"

Atty. Backup Ofthebackup: Mr. Y, what specifically were your instructions with Arif's equipment of Nov. 10, 2011 - the day after Alamach handed over the equipment? What did you do during those 9.5 hours, specifically? Were you instructed to remove all data from Arif's computer equipment? Did you make a backup before wiping the servers? Who told you to scrub?

Atty. Backup Ofthebackup: Do you have a copy of the invoice you prepared for JRM? Apparently JRM's copy was destroyed...

Atty. Backup Ofthebackup: What did JRM tell you as the burning necessity to work on Sunday, Nov. 20, 2011 for 8.5 hours? Did you overhear anyone mentioning something going to the State's Attorney's office the next morning?

Witness # 10  Senior Web Developer at RTA of Northeastern Illinois, Owner of DuPage Republican Campaign Firm Genesis One Designs & Former DuPage County Forest Preserve IT Staffer Troy Clampit

Atty. Backup Ofthebackup: Mr. Clampit, what qualifications did you have to begin working for the Forest Preserve's IT department in March 2011, or are political connections all that mattered?

Atty. Backup Ofthebackup: What was your role in the covert investigation of Mark and David?

Atty. Backup Ofthebackup: According to the Illinois State Board of Elections, your firm, Genesis One, at one point was billing two and half times your salary while you were employed full-time at the Forest Preserve. How did you swing that when most calls and arrangements must be made during business hours?

Atty. Backup Ofthebackup: Have you ever played golf at Oak Meadows?

*cell phone ringing*

Atty. Backup Ofthebackup: Your honor, I object. A witness should not be allowed to conduct political campaign work while on the stand. I had to leave my cell phone in the car. In the name of God, do your duty.

Witness # 11  Former DuPage County Board Member, Former DuPage County Election Commission Board Chairman & Retired Director of Golf Operations at DuPage County Forest Preserve Dean Westrom

Atty. Backup Ofthebackup: Mr. Westrom, please provide the court with a history of your efforts to have a new Oak Meadows clubhouse built within the same foot-print of the clubhouse that burned down...Were you and your close ally, Commissioner Mike Formento, crushed in 2008 that you couldn't get Board approval for a new clubhouse?

Atty. Backup Ofthebackup: What is your explanation of why the alarm system didn't work for the Oak Meadows Clubhouse fire in 2009...that would be the sophisticated alarm system, probably with a battery backup, that was no doubt tested regularly to meet the code? If it was...say...disabled prior to the fire, would that be captured in the Forest Preserve database, excuse me, the database that was wiped clean prior to the investigation going to the State's Attorney's office? Would Mark McDonald or David Tepper have detailed knowledge of the Forest Preserve's computerized alarm system? Name all people who had access to the Oak Meadows Clubhouse's alarm system shortly before the fire...

Atty. Backup Ofthebackup: Explain how you secretly arranged to have petitions circulated calling for your dream to come true - the erection of a new Oak Meadows clubhouse - just weeks after the fire... Don't look so shocked, Mr. Westrom. Proceed...

Atty. Backup Ofthebackup: Why didn't Dewey present you with a sheet cake when you retired? Make a wild guess... Does your hasty retirement in February 2011 have any connection with that invoice for Alamach Technologies stamped Feb. 3, 2011, "Are all users on Archiving?" 

Atty. Backup Ofthebackup: Why would you "retire" from a cushy job as golf operations director with inflated pay and benefits, then post your resume on Linked In? Was retirement too boring?

Witness # 12  Former DuPage County Election Commission Spokesperson & DuPage County Forest Preserve Contracted 24/7 Republican Political Operative Dan Curry

Atty. Backup Ofthebackup: Mr. Curry, this entire miscarriage of justice has that certain je ne sais quoi. Were you the architect? Get any tips from your ol' Swift Boater pal?

Atty. Backup Ofthebackup: What character from the Forest Preserve brought you in for damage control? Was pitching Reverse Spin and starting a new company with a fresh name an example of your damage control expertise?

Atty. Backup Ofthebackup: Tell us about your long history of working closely with the DuPage State's Attorney's office, starting with Jim Ryan...

Atty. Backup Ofthebackup: When exactly did you begin plotting, I mean consulting, on this matter? Did a third party, say an attorney, pay you prior to your Forest Preserve contract in November 2011? After all, you've worked surreptitiously for attorneys, right?

Atty. Backup Ofthebackup: Was it your inspiration for the Forest Preserve to release the JRM Report to the media prior to sending it to the citizen who had formally sought an opinion of the Illinois Attorney General's office? Was it your brilliant connivance
 to have Commissioner Murphy's daughter go out to the citizen's private property, in full Forest Preserve uniform and armed, to check things out...three times in one week?

CountyLeaks Asks:

Were the wrong guys investigated and indicted in this case?