Official held in theft of Cook County fundsMore than $180,000 stolen, authorities say
Friday, December 16, 2005
Special to suffredin.org
by Jeff Coen
As managers go, Shirley Glover probably was a popular one.
Half of the more than $180,000 Glover allegedly embezzled from a Cook County job training program was spent on its employees, authorities said. There were expensive seafood lunches and lavish Christmas parties, a trip to Six Flags Great America and a weekend for 10 at a Galena resort.
Cook County prosecutors say Glover, 50, of the 3700 block of West 168th Place, Country Club Hills, pocketed the other half.
The former fiscal manager of the President's Office of Employment Training, known as POET, a federally funded employment program under Cook County Board President John Stroger was charged Thursday with theft, forgery, mail fraud, bribery, official misconduct, money laundering and misapplication of funds.
Glover also was charged as an organizer of a continuing financial crimes enterprise, a felony that would bring a prison sentence of at least 6 years if she is convicted.
Criminal Court Judge Raymond Myles ordered her held in lieu of $100,000 bail Thursday, after Assistant State's Atty. John Mahoney told him that Glover allegedly redirected and stole federal funds intended to aid poor residents of the south suburbs.
Systematic looting alleged
Announcing the charges Thursday, State's Atty. Richard Devine said Glover "systematically looted" the POET program by depositing checks into an account that state and county officials believed was closed. She withdrew funds at will and spent as she wished, authorities said.
"A person who was entrusted to manage funds earmarked for important public services has abused that trust," Devine said.
Prosecutors are interested in how Glover was hired in the first place.
Her criminal record included seven felony convictions--including forgery, theft and robbery--when she took her job, Devine said.
Prosecutors allege that Glover "enticed at least 60 to 75 employees and others into sharing in the benefits of the illegally obtained funds" and enlisted some of the employees as couriers. "Numerous Cook County employees accepted gifts and benefits that they were prohibited by law from accepting," the court document states.
The document also contends two county administrators, Albert Pritchett and Gerald Nichols, may have placed Glover in her post in 1998 despite her apparent lack of qualifications.
"Those questions will be part of a continuing investigation into these transactions and related transactions," Devine said.
Pritchett, who retired Sept. 1, 1998, said he had no role in hiring Glover.
"Al Pritchett, as chief administrative officer, had no responsibility to put anyone anywhere. None," Pritchett said. "I don't even know the lady."
Pritchett said investigators in the probe have not contacted him.
Attempts to reach Nichols--now a top Stroger aide--after hours Thursday were unsuccessful.
Glover's lawyer, Neil Cohen, said others, including other county supervisors, had to have known about Glover's "employee appreciation" events and given their consent.
Some of the expenditures prosecutors alleged were illegal were "petty expenses within county government on behalf of county government," Cohen said. "Others knew about it and others told her to do it."
Lawyer denies charges
Glover was not hiding her actions by using allegedly stolen money to buy T-shirts for a parade, Cohen said, T-shirts that sources said carried Stroger's name on them.
Supervisors must have known or given their consent, he said, when Glover allegedly organized and paid for a Christmas luncheon for employees at the Hyatt Regency Chicago hotel for $21,000.
Prosecutors allege Glover's deception began in 2000. She began diverting money into a formerly active account that officials believed had been closed when the program reorganized, authorities said.
Glover allegedly continued to deposit county checks from federal grants into the account, and then began making withdrawals for "pocket money" in May 2002.
In a statement released Thursday, Stroger applauded the charges.
"I urge the state's attorney's office to do everything possible to reclaim the funds to help underscore the fact that corruption and impropriety will not be tolerated within Cook County government," Stroger said in the statement.
Glover was taken into custody around midday Wednesday at her Country Club Hills home, Cohen said.
On Thursday the judge approved prosecutors' request for a hearing to determine the source of any money that Glover might use to post bail.
Cohen said he expects Glover's family to be able to raise the money and the hearing could be held next week.
Glover has been caring for her mother who was injured in last year's fatal crash in Arkansas of a Chicago tour bus headed to Mississippi casinos, Cohen said.
"We'll get her out in time for Christmas," Cohen said.