Fired city worker accused of shoplifting is acquitted
She left store with groceries to get her debit card, a lawyer argued...
By Monique Garcia
9:46 PM CDT, March 28, 2008
A Chicago city employee who was fired from her job in the inspector general's office after being arrested for shoplifting was acquitted Thursday of the charge, her attorney said Friday.
Tracy Buckley, 36, who was an assistant chief investigator, was charged with misdemeanor theft after about $100 worth of merchandise was stolen from a Whole Foods Market, 6020 N. Cicero Ave., in January.
Her attorney, Ron Menaker, said Judge Stuart Katz found Buckley not guilty of the charge Thursday.
Menaker had argued that there was an "innocent explanation" for Buckley's actions. She had inadvertently attempted to leave the store with the merchandise to retrieve her debit card from her vehicle in the parking lot, he said.
Menaker said it was unclear if Buckley would try to get her job back with the office, which investigates misconduct by city workers.
Contacted Friday, Inspector General David Hoffman said he had no comment regarding the case.
Copyright © 2008, Chicago Tribune
The real question is, will she need to use her pension to pay for a lawyer to get her job back? Watch the moves in this chess match. What if this happened to any non-clout worker?
Please make sure you read this extended post. Todd Lighty and Laurie Cohen expose more of the Clout and Corruption at Chicago City Hall. Ever have the feeling Daley just don't get it. Chicago City hall is broke, flat broke. Time to sell more assets so Daley's pals can live high on the hog. Patrick McDonough
12:07 AM CDT, March 20, 2008
Mayor Richard Daley's administration has banned the head of Windy City Maintenance and two others convicted of contract fraud from doing business with the city for three years, despite a recommendation from the inspector general that they never be allowed to do work for City Hall again.
James Duff, who cheated the city and insurance companies out of millions of dollars, should be subject to the stiffest penalty outlined in policies drawn up in 2005 following a series of contracting scandals, Inspector General David Hoffman said Wednesday.
Duff, a member of a mob-connected family with strong ties to the mayor, became the face of contracting fraud in Daley's administration after creating phony minority-owned and woman-owned businesses to get city work.
A federal prosecutor once called Duff "the epitome of greed" and a city official previously gave assurances that City Hall had no interest in ever again doing business with Duff-related companies.
After Duff was sent to prison in 2005 for racketeering and fraud, Hoffman recommended in late 2006 that Duff and two co-defendants, William Stratton and Terrence Dolan, receive lifetime bans.
"Allowing the defendants in this case to be eligible for city contracts in the future sends a message that is inconsistent with deterrence and integrity in the system," Hoffman said Wednesday. "If racketeering, fraud and money laundering only merit three years' debarment, then it will be hard to convince other contractors that their misconduct will result in a powerful financial sanction."
Montel Gayles, the chief purchasing officer, did not explain why he decided on the three-year ban when he notified Duff and the others this month.
Karen Bates, spokeswoman for the Department of Procurement Services, said current rules do not allow for a lifetime ban and that no contractor has ever been banned permanently from doing business with the city.
Rules adopted after the Duff and other contracting scandals allow for a contractor to be cut off from doing city business for a specific period of time or "indefinitely."
Bates said Gayles relied on a city statute that sets a three-year ban for those who make false statements about their use of minority- and women-owned businesses.
Hoffman insisted that current contracting rules allow for companies to be banned permanently. He said the City Council should consider whether the municipal code needs to be amended to explicitly allow for permanent bans.
"When someone is convicted of a massive racketeering, fraud and money laundering scheme involving city contracts, in which the city taxpayers are the victim," Hoffman said, "the city should say to that person, 'You have forfeited your opportunity to compete for city contracts.' Period."
The city revoked Windy City Maintenance's favored status as a woman-owned firm in 1999 after a Tribune investigation found that the janitorial firm was controlled by male members of the Duff family instead of by James Duff's mother, Patricia Green Duff.
In 2003, federal authorities charged that the Duff family used Green Duff and Stratton, a trusted black associate, to pose as fronts for sham minority- and women-owned businesses in a massive fraud that garnered more than $100 million in city contracts.
Duff, 49, was sentenced to nearly 10 years in prison. He is in the Yankton federal prison camp in South Dakota and is eligible to seek city business in 2011--three years before his expected release from prison.
His lawyer, Terence Campbell, said he was unaware of the city's decision. Campbell said he did not know Duff's future plans but added, "I don't think he has any intention of ever doing business with the city again."
Stratton, 66, was sentenced to nearly 6 years behind bars and is in the federal prison at Leavenworth, Kan. His lawyer, Michael Sher, said he does not know what Stratton's plans are when he is released in 2010.
Dolan, 56, former operations manager at Windy City, finished his 21-month sentence in November. He now helps run a Hinsdale-based janitorial firm called Custodial Plus, state records show.
Asked if he would try to work for the city after three years, Dolan said, "It's the farthest thing from my mind right now."