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Fired county worker says officials out to get him

Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Daily Herald
by Robert McCoppin

A former busboy who was hired as a Cook County patronage worker said Tuesday that county officials were out to get him and left him deserted and homeless.

Cook County Board President Todd Stroger hired Tony Cole to a $60,000 job last year as an aide to Stroger's cousin, Donna Dunnings. But Stroger fired Cole in April, saying Cole failed to disclose a past conviction related to battery charges in Georgia.

Stroger also fired Dunnings, the county's chief financial officer, saying Cole had "explosive" allegations about her, which have not been made public.

In a news conference at the county headquarters, Cole, 29, of Chicago, claimed he was the victim of "an ongoing feud" between Dunnings and Stroger spokesman Eugene Mullins.

Cole produced copies of what he said was his job application that includes disclosure of his prior conviction.

He also produced copies of schedules for classes he was taking at Roosevelt University in Schaumburg, and encouraging but brief e-mails he said were from Stroger.

With tears running down his face, Cole said he was "frustrated and disappointed," and had spent the night homeless at O'Hare International Airport after leaving jail on Monday.

Cole had pleaded guilty to domestic battery and paid a fine in DuPage County, but was rearrested in Cook County on allegations he violated the woman's order of protection. He spent two months in jail before his release on Monday.

The Cook County State's Attorney's public corruption unit has subpoenaed both the Stroger administration and Cole.

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