Category: Investigations

Tribune Explores Maywood’s, Minority Suburb’s Sky-high Water Rates

Thursday, October 26, 2017 || By Local News Curator || @maywoodnews 

A two-part Chicago Tribune investigative piece, published online Oct. 25, reports that majority-minority suburbs with relatively high concentrations of low-income residents, pay more for water service (and for fees related to maintenance and reconnections) than some of the wealthiest (and whitest) suburbs in the country.

Continue reading “Tribune Explores Maywood’s, Minority Suburb’s Sky-high Water Rates”

BRIEFLY: Halloween Fun Overtakes Villages | Maywood Tosses Landmark Removal Proposal | Sun-Times Revisits Tom Wood Murder 10 Years Later | More

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Maywood Police Chief Valdimir Talley with attendees at the Maywood Park District’s annual Halloween Fest on Saturday. | Photo submitted || Below: Participants during Broadview Park District’s haunted house. | Broadview Park District/Facebook

Broadview Haunted House.jpgSunday, October 30, 2016 || By Community Editor || @maywoodnews

Residents in Maywood and Broadview enjoyed Halloween festivities on Saturday thanks to numerous social service organizations and the two park districts in those towns.

In Maywood, the fun took place outside, on the grounds of Veterans Park, 125 S. 5th Ave. Participants were treated to a hay maze, hot chocolate and cider, candy prizes, pony rides and more.

In Broadview, participants enjoyed a haunted house, along with free entertainment and candy, among other fall activities.

Sun-Times Revisits Tom Wood Murder, 10 Years Later

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Ten years after the death of Maywood Police Officer Tom Wood, whose Oct. 23, 2006 murder is still unsolved, reporter Robert Herguth revisited the long-dormant case for the Chicago Sun-Times in a story featured on the cover (sans Cubs wraparound) of the paper’s Sunday, Oct. 30 edition.

Herguth catches up with former Maywood Police Chief Elvia Williams, who is currently running the Richton Park police department, and also talks with current Maywood Police Chief Valdimir Talley.

Williams tells Herguth that, while she still doesn’t know who murdered Wood, she’s optimistic the case will be solved sometime in “the next couple of years.”

Randy Brown, the Maywood detective who works the Wood case part-time, tells Herguth that the department will make a renewed push next year to start “re-interviewing people.” Talley adds that, next year, evidence in connection to the case will be re-examined, among other developments.

“‘I owe it to the family,’ Talley says, as well as fellow cops and the community ‘to bring closure. I’m definitely committed to getting this resolved.'”

To read the full Sun-Times report, click here.

Maywood Liquor Sales Could Start an Hour Earlier on Sundays

liquor.jpgAt a Oct. 26 Legal, License and Ordinance Committee (LLOC) meeting, the Maywood Board of Trustees voted unanimously to send to a regular board meeting for final approval a motion that would allow retail liquor sales to start at 11 a.m. on Sundays, an hour ahead of the current 12 p.m. start time that current regulations call for.

The Maywood Liquor Commission, which is chaired by Mayor Edwenna Perkins, unanimously recommended that the board approve the the motion, which retailers say will allow them to compete with retailers in nearby communities that sell liquor earlier in the day.

According to village officials, each holder of a liquor license in the village is in compliance with regulations and in good standing. Officials say there are currently 15 active liquor licenses in Maywood as of Aug. 17.

The board is expected to make a binding vote on the new hours at a regular meeting on Nov. 1.

Maywood Board Tosses Proposed Landmark Removal Ordinance

At the Oct. 26 LLOC, the Maywood Board of Trustees voted 4-3 for “the outright denial and rejection” of a proposed ordinance that would allow owners of properties in the village that have been designated local historic landmarks to remove that designation by appealing directly to the Board of Trustees, and bypassing the Historic Preservation Commission.

Trustees Antonette Dorris, Melvin Lightford and Ron Rivers, who pushed for the proposal, have argued that landmark status could hamper potential development, particularly of the Maywood Home for Soldiers Widows, near the corner of Lake St. and First Ave.

Maywood Trustee Michael Rogers, who made the tersely stated motion, argued that landmark status is no different than any other regulation that protects the historical character and integrity of the community.

Cook County Board of Commissioners Presents Resolution in Honor of Iberia Hampton 

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During an Oct. 26 meeting, the Cook County Board of Commissioners honored longtime Maywood resident Iberia Hampton, the mother of Fred Hampton, with a resolution.

The legislation was sponsored by Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin (1st), in whose district Hampton lived until her death on Oct. 17 at age 94.

You can read the full resolution by clicking here.

State Rep. named ‘Legislator of the Year’

Rep. WelchState Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch (7th), whose district includes Maywood, was honored on Oct. 28 by the Illinois Association of School Social Workers as the “Legislator of the Year” for his 2016 legislative work in Springfield.

Welch was presented the award during the organization’s 46th Annual Conference, which took place in Lisle.

The group, which honored Welch’s body of education-related work, specifically referenced his hand in the passage of HB 4996 — a law signed by Gov. Bruce Rauner allows school districts “to appoint social workers as the district’s liaison with the Department of Children and Family Services to help coordinate services to foster children within a school district,” according to a statement released by Welch.

“Currently, Illinois school districts serve over 10,000 foster kids across 800 districts, and there is no mechanism in place to properly track services provided,” the statement noted. ” HB4996 will correct this issue, and it will also help Illinois as it prepares to comply with the new Federal Every Student Succeeds Act.” VFP

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Chronicle: Sheriff Re-opens Maywood Water Billing Fraud Investigation

imageWednesday, February 10 2016 || Originally Published: Cook County Chronicle || 2/9/16 || By Jean Lotus 

When one Maywood village employee found a loophole in water bill liens double-paid to the village in 2012, she allegedly used the extra money to credit the accounts of fellow employees and others.

One person who got a fraudulent $920 credit was then-Cook County Recorder of Deeds Eugene Moore, according to audit documents. The money was re-charged to Moore’s bill two years later, records show.

The sheriff’s Community Inspector General Unit recently re-opened a theft-by-deception investigation of a 2012 Maywood water billing fraud scheme that resulted in the firing of four village employees. The employee who allegedly made the fraudulent payments was not criminally charged and resigned.

The 2013-14 investigation found almost $27,000-worth of diverted water bill payments were credited fraudulently to the accounts of village employees and other individuals. A $920.41 payment was credited to the water bill of a house in the first block of South 17th Avenue owned by then-County Recorder Moore, who was also the Democratic committeeman at the time.

“I know nothing about [the investigation], and no one ever asked me anything about it,” Moore said when contacted by telephone.

Moore did not run for re-election in 2012 and Karen Yarbrough was elected Cook County Recorder.

The Sheriff’s CIG follow-up report was submitted to the Maywood Board of Trustees at its Jan. 5 board meeting. The report said one employee had possibly participated in the scheme and not been fired.

Village Manager Willie Norfleet said last week the village and board had not made a decision about terminating the employee. The Sheriff’s 2015 report did not mention the overpayment to Moore’s account.

According to investigation documents, the Maywood water billing department had a years-long practice of sometimes double-billing customers who had water liens blocking the sale of their property. A forensic audit said a total of $60,598.79 was erroneously double-paid to the accounts of 31 properties between February 2012 and October 2013.

Employees told investigating sheriff’s officers if a customer did not notice the overpayment, the “credit would be zeroed out and the extra would remain in a Village of Maywood account.”

According to investigation documents, an employee allegedly told other employees whose accounts were allegedly fraudulently credited that the Village of Maywood had a “fund to help residences pay their water bill.” The employee’s supervisor’s water bill was one of the accounts fraudulently credited. The supervisor was fired.

In one instance, a $5,195 payment was made in September 2012 by the County of Cook possibly intended for the account of a property near the Maybrook Courthouse. Instead it was split six ways and deposited into the accounts of a county-owned building, two Maywood employees, two other people and Moore.

In another instance, a commercial client overpaid a $4,546.55 bill and the amount was split six ways between two village employees and three accounts of a longtime village vendor who provided landscape services.

the end of the investigation, Lanya Satchell, Maywood’s director of finance, told investigators the proper accounts had been re-credited and refunds issued. Moore’s bill was recharged in April 2014, records show.

Assistant Village Manager David Myers, who was acting village manager during the investigation, said the water-billing department had changed the policy about double-paid water liens.

“They’ve been monitoring the system much closer after this incident,” Myers said.

“Obviously if [a bill is] double-paid we will find the one who has overpaid and get the money back to them.” VFP

 

PLCCA Housing Revamp Costs Still Rising, ‘Delays Persist,’ According to Tribune Report

Maywood rehab II

TRIBUNE: Rehab expenses on this 24-unit apartment building in Maywood are on pace to surpass $7.4 million, or nearly $310,000 per unit. The ongoing project had been targeted for completion in spring 2013. (Antonio Perez / Chicago Tribune)

Monday, December 28, 2015 || Originally Published: Chicago Tribune || 12/25/15 || By Angela Caputo

When Cook County officials first set their sights on financing the overhaul of a beleaguered west suburban apartment building, the goal was to put two dozen cash-strapped families into new homes by spring 2013. Nearly three years later, the 24-unit building just south of the Eisenhower Expressway remains empty, delays are ongoing and costs continue to climb.

Public documents show rehab costs are on pace to surpass $7.4 million on the Maywood project, which, an earlier Tribune investigation found, was already the most expensive development financed through millions in federal aid pumped into Chicago’s suburbs in recent years.

That estimate includes more than $500,000 worth of change orders, an unforeseen drainage project and $478,000 to cover “off-hour security” costs.

Cook County spokesman Frank Shuftan said it’s not uncommon to amend a budget as construction progresses. “Change orders in a project of this size and complexity are the norm,” he wrote in an email. “As with any construction project, there is unforeseen work and unforeseen costs.”

Administrative and legal fees on the project — which is being redeveloped by the nonprofit Proviso-Leyden Council for Community Action, headed up by politically connected pastor Claude Porter — have increased as well.

Andrew Martin, vice president of program operations for the Maywood-based nonprofit, said the deadline for completing the project has been pushed back to late March. The organization is in line to receive a $676,000 fee for developing the property.

A Tribune investigation published in August found that despite red flags around how Porter’s organization has managed the millions in federal, state and local tax dollars awarded each year to provide job training, violence prevention and programs for low-income children, public money keeps flowing. State records, tax documents and financial reports show the social service agency has struggled to comply with oversight requirements and used public money for years to hire Porter’s family and supporters.

Each apartment is now on pace to cost nearly $310,000 — more than any house currently advertised for sale in the west suburb.

The rehab money, pulled through the federal HOME Investment Partnerships and Neighborhood Stabilization programs, was intended to create housing for people earning less than the median area income while helping to stabilize communities hit hard by the foreclosure crisis.

In Will County, 105 houses were acquired and rehabbed with $10.5 million in similar aid, a Tribune analysis found. In Lake County, 86 residences, mostly houses, were developed with $9 million. The projects were, on average, most expensive in DuPage County, where 29 single-family homes were bought and rehabbed with $6.2 million.

Each of those counties has wound down those projects. Cook County, however, has lagged behind. As of Sept. 30, a handful of properties, like the Maywood rehab, remained under construction, according to a report recently filed with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

County officials committed $4.3 million in HOME funds and an additional $750,000 in federal foreclosure relief funds to turn the Maywood building around. The state kicked in $100,000 for windows, and the nonprofit took out a $500,000 bank loan.

In July, nearly 80 percent of the HOME funds had already been drawn down, and by fall virtually all of the federal foreclosure relief funding has been spent as well.

County officials say that it’s too soon to detail how the remaining expenses will be paid. A $450,000 “contingency” fund was worked into the budget, which could help cover initially unforeseen costs, but it’s still unclear if that fund will be tapped as “final costs are subject to change,” according to Shuftan.

“We cannot predict the final cost with certainty because the project is ongoing,” he added. “We’re now into winter weather, and other variables — potentially both plus and minus — may yet enter the picture.” VFP

Maywood’s Legal Bills Mounting

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December 11, 2015 || Previously Published: Better Government Association || 10/25/15 || Andrew Schroedter & Patrick Rehkamp

Since 2010, Maywood has spent nearly $3 million on legal fees. Klein, Thorpe & Jenkins, the private law firm that the village pays to handle its legal affairs, is among the most well-paid firms when it comes to doing business with suburban Cook County municipal governments.

Suburban Cook County municipalities spent $244 million on private attorneys since 2010 with many of the largest bills being paid by suburbs suffering severe financial hardships brought on, in some cases, by police misconduct and corruption claims, according to a Better Government Association “Rescuing Illinois” analysis.

A significant amount of the suburban legal payout, nearly $98 million or 40 percent of the $244 million, is going to just seven law firms. Some small but influential practices go beyond legal work and double as fundraising powerhouses for municipal leaders, according to the analysis.

The suburban legal fee payout is more than twice the $110 million that Chicago paid to outside counsel during Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s first term, starting May 2011. Combined, Chicago and the 133 Cook County municipalities have spent a whopping $354 million for outside legal counsel over the past five years.

“There’s no way you can eliminate lawyers,” says Jeff Tobolski, mayor of the Village of McCook. “You definitely need these guys. It’s a lot of work they do. But it’s the responsibility of the [village] board to be watching what these guys are doing. I’m constantly telling [village attorneys], ‘Keep your bills in check.’”

THE NUMBERS

The BGA tally is based on records obtained through the Illinois Freedom of Information Act. The BGA requested 133 suburbs provide records of outside legal spending from 2010 to early 2015.

The BGA’s review of those records reveals:

  • The highest paid firms are: Klein, Thorpe & Jenkins, $23.4 million; Odelson & Sterk, $20.3 million; Storino, Ramello & Durkin, $16.4 million; Del Galdo Law Group, $14.8 million; and Holland & Knight, $9.7 million.
  • Three of the firms – Odelson & Sterk; Storino, Ramello & Durkin and Del Galdo – are generous political campaign donors. Collectively, these firms have donated about $400,000 since 2010 to candidates and elected officials in towns they have counseled.
  • Twenty-one suburbs have spent at least $3 million on private attorneys since 2010. The biggest spenders are Cicero, $15.3 million; Calumet City, $7.2 million; Harvey, $6.7 million; Oak Lawn, $6.6 million; and Rosemont, $6.1 million. (Elgin had the eighth-highest outside legal expenses, at $4.5 million; Mount Prospect was No. 9 at $4.2 million.)

LEGAL WORK

While the city of Chicago has a law department to handle routine legal issues, the BGA found that outside legal firms often act as a municipality’s primary counsel handling issues from routine zoning to complex litigation.

In that role, attorneys are called upon to write ordinances and resolutions, negotiate contracts and collective bargaining agreements, prosecute village code violations and oversee public meetings to ensure transparency laws are followed.

Most Cook County suburbs pay private attorneys hourly rates of $150 to $300 to handle those often thorny and complex tasks. However, a small number of larger municipalities also employ in-house counsel. There are as many as 24 of those attorneys countywide, and they are typically paid at least $100,000 annually, though neither they nor outside legal settlements are included in the $244 million tab.

The going hourly rate for outside municipal attorneys is considerably less than what many corporate attorneys charge. But a small group of municipal lawyers are still well compensated because it “has become a highly specialized field,” says Michael Zimmermann, a local government attorney at law firm Tressler LLP.

BIG FEES, CASH-POOR TOWNS

Suburban officials say that in most cases they can afford the legal bills but there are examples of suburbs that cannot.

Harvey is one of them.

The cash-strapped south suburb owes the city of Chicago millions of dollars in unpaid water bills and lost millions more in a failed hotel development deal. And yet since 2010 it has spent $6.7 million on legal fees relating to, among other things, a SEC investigation and lawsuits alleging police misconduct, financial mismanagement and politically motivated employee terminations.

The legal bills in Robbins are small by comparison but the suburb of 5,400 residents is still struggling to meet its obligations. Since 2010 the village’s government has paid outside attorneys $345,000, records show.

But Robbins could not afford to pay Odelson & Sterk. The village fell behind on payments to the law firm and in 2013 worked out a deal to pay off a $175,000 debt over a five-year period, at a total cost to taxpayers of $195,000 in principal and interest, municipal records show.

“I don’t know of any other town that has done this,” says Ernestine Beck-Fulgham, the Robbins village administrator. “Our budget deficit this year was $1.7 million. We’re barely making payroll.”

Odelson & Sterk no longer works for Robbins but the firm continues to advise about 30 suburbs, mainly in south and west Cook County, Burt Odelson says.

“They’re an impoverished town and we wanted to help them out,” says Odelson, adding that Robbins’ actual legal bill was much higher. “We didn’t want to get paid and not have them have a police department.”

CORRUPTION COSTS

Legal costs have soared in suburbs facing serious claims of corruption or police misconduct, such as Schaumburg, which has paid about $500,000 to defend 17 wrongful arrest lawsuits involving three rogue cops who reportedly operated a drug ring. Six of those cases are still pending. In the 11 lawsuits that have been resolved, one was dismissed and 10 were settled with Schaumburg paying accusers $5,000 to $32,000, according to the village.

The Village of Countryside has spent $4.1 million since 2010 on private attorneys, with a “substantial amount” of those payments going toward an investigation into pension spiking, or boosting end-of-career employee retirement benefits, by the suburb’s police pension board and a probe of a former police chief, who was convicted on charges he misused donations intended for a nonprofit he ran, Countryside Mayor Sean McDermott says.

“There’s a price to pay for it,” McDermott says about municipal corruption.

Cicero and Calumet City were the municipalities with the highest legal bills, costs that soared in large part because of litigation involving alleged police misconduct, the BGA found.

Most of the cash has flowed to just two firms: Cicero has paid Del Galdo Law Group $10 million since 2010, while Calumet City has paid $6 million to Odelson & Sterk.

The suburbs have each been sued 28 times from 2008 to mid-2013 for excessive force, wrongful arrest and other related misconduct claims, the BGA previously reported.

Cicero spokesman Ray Hanania blames his town’s enormous legal bills on “lingering lawsuits that were dragged out by the prior administrations before [Town President Larry Dominick] came to office in 2005.”

Unlike Calumet City and Cicero, Elgin has an in-house staff of three attorneys but the suburb still spent $4.5 million on outside legal counsel since 2010.

The reasons vary but main drivers include costly litigation involving workers compensation and a revoked liquor license, and a labor spat with the fire department. The suburb also took legal action after a homebuilder went bankrupt amid the global economic collapse and left a massive residential project unfinished. Elgin paid about $570,000 in legal fees but ultimately received settlements totaling $3.5 million, says William Cogley, Elgin’s top in-house attorney.

The development is still under construction.

Mount Prospect’s legal expenses, totaling $4.2 million, were fueled in part by a legal fight over a downtown bar that the village wanted for redevelopment, according to records and interviews.

CLOUT CONTACTS

Municipal attorneys interviewed by the BGA say they obtain most of their local government business by going through a public bidding process.

But some municipal law firms also play a political role by making significant contributions to the political coffers of the people who employ them or could potentially hire them.

Case in point: When Robert Lovero ran for Berwyn mayor in 2009, Storino, Ramello & Durkin donated $750 to his campaign and Del Galdo Law Group chipped in $1,000. At the time neither firm did business in Berwyn.

After Lovero won, he hired both law firms and since 2010 Berwyn has paid Storino $347,628 and Del Galdo $736,647, according to interviews and municipal records.

Lovero declined interview requests. But Anthony Bertuca, Berwyn’s in-house city attorney, says the donations had no bearing on the mayor’s decision to hire the law firms.

“Absolutely not,” he says. “They’re two extremely well-qualified and renowned municipal law firms.”

Based in Rosemont, Storino, Ramello & Durkin has donated nearly $59,000 since 2010 to campaign funds benefitting Rosemont Mayor Bradley Stephens, according to data from the Illinois State Board of Elections.

Over that same span Stephens’ municipal government has paid the law firm $1.7 million, according to municipal records.

Attorney Don Storino says he sees nothing wrong with supporting Mayor Stephens and does so because “he’s done quite the job for his community.”

The donations, he says, have nothing to do with the firm’s Rosemont business.

The BGA found other examples of law firms giving big money to elected officials in towns where they work.

Since 2010 Odelson & Sterk has contributed $52,000 to Calumet City Mayor Michelle Markiewicz Qualkinbush and other elected officials in the south suburb, the firm’s largest municipal client, according to elections board data.

Meanwhile, Del Galdo Law Group has donated $40,000 over that same span to campaign funds benefitting Cicero Town President Dominick, according to the elections board.

Del Galdo declined interview requests.

He issued a statement through a spokesman that says, “My contributions to the Cicero Voters Alliance [Dominick’s campaign fund] aim to support a broad range of local candidates for multiple regional offices, including local school boards, rather than one particular individual.”

Not all municipal law firms agree that supporting candidates is appropriate.

For instance, the Chicago office of Holland & Knight has a long-standing policy of not donating to political candidates in suburbs the firm represents, says Steven Elrod, head of the firm’s local government practice.

Elections board data shows the firm has given to lawmakers at the state and county levels but “we are not involved in local politics,” says Elrod, whose firm counsels about 20 suburbs, mainly in north and northwest Cook County, including Arlington Heights and Des Plaines. “It’s to avoid the appearance of any [impropriety.] . . . We make that very clear.”

CHICAGO’S LEGAL COSTS

Mayor Emanuel made it clear when he took office in 2011 that he wanted the financially struggling city of Chicago to spend less money on private attorneys.

But as the BGA recently reported, under Emanuel the city has paid $110 million to outside counsel, roughly the same amount his predecessor Mayor Richard M. Daley spent on freestanding legal firms in his last term.

Emanuel’s aides say he has implemented reforms that have saved taxpayers cash but the BGA found legal spending is unlikely to drop sharply in part because of a sizable backlog of pending police misconduct cases, some of which date back to the Daley era. VFP

NBC 5: Crash Victims Report Service Fees From Fire Departments

Sun Times EisenhowerEisenhower Expressway. Photo by Chicago Sun-Times.

Thursday, September 11, 2014 || Chris Coffey || NBC 5 Investigates

UPDATE: Maywood’s fire chief told NBC 5 Investigates Wednesday that Brian McCormick does not have to pay the $435 bill. Chief Craig Bronaugh said McCormick, who was involved in a multi-vehicle accident and later issued a bill for “scene assessment” and “hazardous materials clearance check”, should never have been billed in the first place.

The Eisenhower Expressway near Maywood was getting crowded last October when Brian McCormick and his wife suddenly found themselves surrounded by a swarm of motorcycles.

McCormick said one motorcycle crashed into a vehicle in front of him, sending its rider smashing through the other car’s rear windshield. A few seconds later, a motorcycle slammed into McCormick’s rear left bumper before another motorcycle rider hit his car’s front left bumper. McCormick remained on the scene to provide a statement to authorities. He also contacted his insurance provider but he said the two motorcycle riders that hit his car sped away.

According to McCormick, no one was seriously hurt in the Oct. 6 accident. But nearly one year later he received something in the mail that brought him back to that day. And it came with a cost.

Last month McCormick opened a bill sent to him by a third party service allegedly working on behalf of the Village of Maywood. He was being charged $435 by the village as a result of the fire department performing a “scene assessment and stabilization” of the accident site as well as a “hazardous materials clearance check.”

“I was completely surprised,” McCormick said. “They didn’t say anything at the scene.”

The bill states fire crews closed down lanes of roadway, detoured traffic around the scene of the incident and restored the scene to a non-hazardous condition.

McCormick is disputing the bill and claims he was not responsible for any mess. He also said he was not ticketed at the scene.

A recent NBC 5 and Better Government Association investigation revealed Maywood and at least a dozen other Chicago-area fire departments are billing for their services. The charges are typically sent to non-residents. McCormick, for example, lives in Oak Park.

Charges may come from a flat fee or rate based on the number of responding fire trucks and personnel, as well as the length of time on the scene.

The state of Illinois approved the billing practice about 20 years ago, but few departments charged until recently.

While insurance carriers may pay larger clean-up costs, the claims are often denied.

“It’s something that we largely oppose because there’s often times a chance for great abuse,” said Jeffrey Junkas of Property Casualty Insurers Association of America.

Junkas provided a hypothetical example of a fire engine and ambulance being responding to a fender bender in a parking lot, in which the driver would later receive a bill for the fire department’s services.

He said drivers should communicate with their insurance carriers and challenge what they may consider unnecessary bills from fire departments or billing services.

“Make sure that they are in firm standing when they go and confront these companies about these abusive bills,” Junkas said.

Sean Malloy of the Illinois Fire Chiefs Association agrees.

“Find out if there is a way to challenge that cost and ask for proof that you were involved,” Malloy said.

McCormick told NBC 5 Investigates he raised concerns about the bill with the Maywood fire department. He said he is waiting to find out if the fire department will waive his bill.

NBC 5 Investigates spoke by phone to Maywood Fire Chief Craig Bronaugh, who did not provide a comment on McCormick’s bill or elaborate on his fire department’s billing practices. Village mayor Edwenna Perkins also could not be reached for comment. VFP