Friday, June 8, 2018 || By Igor Studenkov || @maywoodnews
Broadview appears to be moving on since an ABC 7 investigation conducted last May indicated that some village employees may have been using a public works facility for off-the-books auto repairs.
Since then, two public works employees have been terminated and Broadview Mayor Katrina Thompson said that the village has wrapped up its own internal investigation into the matter, but village officials are mum about what they found.
Last year, ABC 7’s I-Team made public video footage that appeared to show public works employees running an off-the-books auto repair operation in a village-owned garage. Matt Ames, the village’s public works director, told I-Team investigators at the time that he was unaware of the operation.
In addition to discovering the off-the-book repairs, the I-Team reported that Judy Brown-Marino, a village trustee, said that the board had “signed off on a large number of invoices for auto parts that just listed part numbers. Now she’s questioning if taxpayer money is being used for private repairs.”
At the time, the I-Team reported that one public works employee had been suspended. In addition, the Cook County Inspector General and Broadview’s attorney both launched investigations into “whether a private auto repair business was run out of Broadview Public Works.
The attorney was also “reviewing the conduct of Public Works Director Matt Ames after learning what the I-Team uncovered.”
The ABC 7 investigation was televised less than two months after Thompson was elected to succeed former Broaview mayor and current trustee Sherman Jones.
During a regular board meeting on Dec. 16 — when trustees were debating whether or not to authorize the “temporary and probationary” hiring of a part-time and full-time laborer in the public works department — Thompson said that dealing with the scandal had consumed most of her attention when she first got into office.
She said the two hires, in addition to a cashier, would be the first since she was elected last April.
“We had two [public works] employees terminated — one full-time and another part-time and we haven’t replaced them,” Thompson said. “They are needed in those departments. The department is short-staffed.”
At the time, a motion required for the authorization of Thompson’s three recommended hires failed for lack of a second. Since then, the board has approved the hiring of a full-time public works employee. At a March 19 regular meeting, the board voted unanimously to hire Jay Green as a new full-time employee in the department.
But the status of other issues related to the public works scandal — such as the inquiry into the conduct of Ames, who still works for the village, and whether or not taxpayer funds were used for private repairs — is still murky, since village officials won’t release any details despite conceding that an internal investigation has closed.
After a request for more information last month, Thompson confirmed that the investigation is closed but she didn’t provide any additional details into the matter. Matt Ingersoll, Broadview’s village attorney, also wrote in an email that he was also unable to speak about the investigation. And the public works department did not respond to calls seeking comment.
In late May, Village Free Press filed a FOIA request with the village clerk’s office, asking for “any reports related to the conclusion of the internal investigation regarding the alleged misconduct of now-former employees of Broadview Public Works as documented by ABC 7 News in the spring of 2017.”
In response to the records request, Clerk Kevin McGrier replied in an email on June 6 that the village “did not generate any reports related to the aforementioned investigation.”
Attempts to reach out to officials with the Cook County Inspector General on the status of that investigation into the Broadview Public Works department were unsuccessful. More as this story develops. VFP
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