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Suburban officials charged with bilking thousands from taxpayers, non-profit
Prosecutors: One stole $266,000; another bought computers, plane tickets with city money

Tuesday, May 04, 2010
Chicago Sun-Times
by Rummana Hussain

A special ed official who used a district credit card to buy personal computers and plane tickets. A south suburban treasurer who stole $266,000 from the city he worked for.  A bar association director who wrote more than $50,000 in checks to himself.

All three are examples of local corruption weeded out in “Operation Cookie Jar,’’ Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez announced today.

In the above cases, all three former officials have been accused of bilking their respective organizations thousands of dollars, Alvarez said.

“Charging a special education director may not be as glamorous as indicting a governor, but when a person steals public money needed to help children with special needs, this is a high priority for those children and their families,” Alvarez said as she outlined the official misconduct charge against Robert Baldwin, 67.

Baldwin was formerly director of fiscal service for Niles Township District for Special Education. The  Prospect Heights resident used a district-issued credit card and spent $10,400 of the earmarked funds on rental cars, airline tickets,  personal computers and cell phones, Alvarez said. He also used the money to pay for his family’s cell phone bills, according to the criminal complaint.

Donald Jacobs, of Posen, is accused of stealing the most money in Alvarez’s ongoing “Operation Cookie Jar” probe targeting local corruption.

Jacobs, 62, allegedly stole $266,000 from the Posen Park District while serving as the city’s part-time treasurer. Jacobs would issue checks for payment of services to “D & D Service,” a company that never did business with Posen. Only Jacobs and his wife were the only ones who had access to the company’s bank account, Alvarez said.

Martin Boyd, 62, the former accountant of Harwood Heights, also swiped $135,000 from his employers by overpaying himself during a three-year period, Alvarez said.

Both Jacobs and Boyd, of Hometown, were charged with a theft of government property.

A fourth man, Michael Tracy, 48, of Tinley Park, has also been charged with theft. Tracy, who was the secretary and director of the Southwest Bar Association between 2006 and 2009, took $55,200 from the organization by writing multiple checks to himself and depositing them into his personal bank account, Alvarez said.  

Baldwin, Jacobs and Tracy were arrested on Monday. Boyd was arrested on April 18.

Authorities were prompted to investigate after they were contacted by concerned citizens and received “insider information,’’ Alvarez said.

“We need to start cleaning up from the ground up,” Alvarez said.

Harwood Heights Mayor Arlene Jezierny said Boyd’s alleged actions will negatively impact the village’s 2010 fiscal budget and foresaw possible cuts as a result.

“I was very disappointed and I think the people are disappointed too, especially during this economy,” Jezierny said.



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