Suffredin- For a Better Cook County  

Forest Preserves
Public Safety
Cook County Budget
Forest Pres. Budget
Property Tax Appeal
Health & Hospitals
Land Bank Authority
Policy Resolutions
Unsung Heroine


  Office phone numbers:  

The Cook County Code of Ordinances are the current laws of Cook County.


Search current and proposed Cook County Legislation in Larry's exclusive legislative library.

  Last year more people used the County's forest preserves than visited Yellowstone National Park.

County probe into padded mileage went unheeded

Monday, June 26, 2006
Chicago Sun-Times
by STEVE PATTERSON Staff Reporter

Cook County Highway Department employee Allen Back reported he drove 720 work-related miles in his personal car between August and September in 2004.

But when county investigators checked the odometer on Back's Hyundai, they determined he had driven only 244 miles total during that time, an internal county memo obtained by the Sun-Times shows.

The memo and other investigative documents detail how Back was accused of tacking on a total of nearly 1,000 miles to his odometer in late 2004. But the county probe apparently fell on deaf ears, as officials never have disciplined Back or asked him to repay the county for the miles he allegedly overbilled.

The documents include a memo from highway personnel supervisor William Krystyniak, a former Chicago alderman, who wrote the "irregularities" would qualify as "major cause infractions" that county rules show would be punishable by suspension or termination. Krystyniak, however, did not follow up on the probe's findings.

'Nobody said anything'

Back, a 23-year county employee, said he was unaware his odometer was ever the subject of a county investigation. "Nobody's said anything to me about it," he said when reached last week at his Streamwood home.

Back, a former union steward, admitted he made some mistakes reporting his miles in 2004. He speculated that the reason he was singled out for odometer checks was that he's long been a thorn in the side of county management.

Back is a highway department engineering assistant, and his job includes checking county roads for potholes and logging lots of miles behind the wheel. The only time he recalled hearing about the miles he was reporting came last year, when a supervisor told him, "You're driving too much."

Since then, Back said, he's "cut way back. . . . But I'm supposed to drive, so it's a real Catch-22."

Records show Back, whose base salary is around $63,000, charges the county for mileage from the time he leaves his door and continues as he makes maintenance stops and checks roads.

$350 overbilled

At the 2004 reimbursement rate of 37.5 cents per mile, the allegedly fraudulent miles would have cost taxpayers about $350.

After the Sun-Times raised questions about Back's mileage reports, Krystyniak's assistant, Brien Comerford, confirmed the findings "warrant discipline" and confirmed that the documents the newspaper obtained were legitimate.

However, Comerford said the county could find no similar discrepancies throughout Back's sheets. Comerford said "the overwhelming majority of Back's vouchers are accurate," and said what happened in 2004 was "an isolated incident."

Nonetheless, county spokeswoman Chinta Strausberg said county officials would re-evaluate Back's status based on the Sun-Times inquiry. The county, she added, has instituted tougher checks of travel expenses since the findings, requiring regular odometer checks.

Still, records show that since 2002, the county highway department has exceeded its travel budget by tens of thousands of dollars.

Recent Headlines

Cook County Land Bank Authority Announces Opening of Registration to Give Away a Free Home
Tuesday, August 13, 2019
The Chicago Crusader

Friday, August 09, 2019
Illinois Policy

Top Cook County Jail chess players take on the world
Wednesday, August 07, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

Public defender takes shots at Chicago Police gun offender webpage
Wednesday, August 07, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

Commentary: Data alone won’t stop Chicago gun violence; Cook County needs a public ‘Violence Reduction Dashboard’
Wednesday, August 07, 2019
Chicago Tribune

Cook County Jail detainees take on inmates around the world in online chess tournament
Tuesday, August 06, 2019
Chicago Tribune

Here’s What You Need To Know About The Ongoing Bail Debate In Chicago
Monday, August 05, 2019
WBEZ Chicago Public Radio

Cook County Jail hosts international chess tournament
Monday, August 05, 2019
WGN Chicago

Cook County property taxes are due today, Aug. 1.
Thursday, August 01, 2019
Special to

Forest Preserves of Cook County Celebrate Dan Ryan Woods Investments
Thursday, August 01, 2019
Chicago Defender

Cook County TIFs generate $1.2 billion
Thursday, August 01, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

Changes coming to Cook County assessor’s office
Thursday, August 01, 2019
Chicago Daily Law Bulletin

In Chicago, TIF Revenues Soaring
Wednesday, July 31, 2019

A controversial tax subsidy program will generate a record $1.2 billion in revenue. Here’s what the number means for Chicago.
Wednesday, July 31, 2019
Chicago Tribune

Group to rally in support of Kim Foxx as challengers emerge
Tuesday, July 30, 2019
Crain's Chicago Business

Report: Incarceration Rates Drop Nearly 20% Under Kim Foxx
Monday, July 29, 2019
WTTW Chicago

Lightfoot blames bond court reform for gun violence
Thursday, July 25, 2019
Chicago Reporter

Cook County Health Hires Audit Firm To Review Scathing Inspector General Report
Thursday, July 25, 2019

Former County Commissioner Shocked Animal Abuser Registry He Worked To Create Was Never Used
Thursday, July 25, 2019
CBS Chicago

No one on County Board sharing Arroyo’s view of inspector general
Wednesday, July 24, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

all news items

Paid for by Larry Suffredin and not at taxpayer expense. A Haymarket Production.