Three charged with stealing 100k from Forest District
By Susan Frick Carlman firstname.lastname@example.org September 5, 2012 10:34PM
Mark McDonald is one of three former empoloyees of the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County to face charges of using their positions to defraud the government out of money during multiple schemes. | Submitted
Updated: October 9, 2012 2:28PM
Two former employees and a contractor with ties to the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County face felony charges for allegedly stealing more than $100,000 from the district.
The charges filed this week capped a 15-month investigation by the DuPage County State’s Attorney’s office. The three are accused of using their positions to defraud the government out of money during multiple schemes.
Mark McDonald, 53, of the 1000 block of Childs Street in Wheaton, and David Tepper, 49, of the 300 block of Franklin Avenue in River Forest, each a former district employee, face one count of felony theft, felony official misconduct, felony unlawful participation and felony kickbacks, according to a news release from State’s Attorney Robert Berlin’s office.
Arif Mahmood, 37, of the 400 block of Greenbriar Drive in Glendale Heights, a contractor who worked with the district, was charged with one count of felony theft and felony kickbacks, the release said.
McDonald was a Forest Preserve District director, while Tepper was a manager and Mahmood was a contractor, the state’s attorney’s office said.
The men are accused in two schemes that stole more than $100,000 from the government over a six-year period.
Between July 2005 and November 2007, Integrated Design Solutions, a company co-owned by McDonald and Tepper, billed and received more than $90,000 from the district for equipment and services that were never delivered, Berlin’s office said.
In another scheme, Mahmood-owned Alamach Technologies over-billed the district for contract work performed between February 2010 and November 2011, the release said. Mahmood is also accused of subcontracting with Integrated Design Solutions and over-billing for services never rendered.
The state’s attorney’s office said McDonald and Tepper received more than $64,000 in kickbacks from the scheme.
Tepper was released after posting $30,000 of his $300,000 bond, the state’s attorney’s office said. He is scheduled to appear before DuPage County Judge Robert Kleeman on Oct. 1.
Mahmood posted $20,000 of his $200,000 bond and also was released. His next court appearance is set for Oct. 1 in front of DuPage County Judge Kathryn Creswell.
McDonald was held in DuPage County Jail Wednesday night and appeared Thursday morning in bond court, where DuPage County Judge Elizabeth Sexton set his bond at $300,000. He is due in DuPage County Judge Blanche Fawell’s courtroom on Sept. 20.
Long before any charges were filed, the Forest Preserve District had incurred more than $100,000 in expenses related to the alleged schemes. Commission members hired Naperville computer programming specialists JRM Consulting Inc. in July 2011, four months before Tepper and McDonald left the agency payroll. The original $18,000 contract swelled to $61,537 in December, after the internal investigation proved more complex than officials initially realized. The FBI also was brought in to help, bringing its forensic computer expertise to the investigation.
The district’s seven-member board also last November retained a Wheaton communications consultant and Republican strategist to cover crisis communications after the suspected misdeeds were revealed. Dan Curry, co-owner of Reverse Spin, is receiving $4,000 monthly under the one-year accord. His contracted services, which since have been shifted to work on the district’s website transparency portal, augment the work done by its six-member public affairs department.
Attorneys for the district filed a complaint for declaratory judgment in court Thursday morning that seeks to recover all public funds expended in connection with the allegations.
Wheaton lawyer James Knippen, one of the agency’s attorneys, said paperwork for the civil action was ready to go five months ago but was held at Berlin’s request, to enable him to complete the inquiry.
“The State’s Attorney didn’t want the district to do anything that would compromise the investigation in any way,” said Knippen.
District officials have been fully cooperative in the process so far, he said, providing access to employees who could have details that would assist the investigation and computers that might contain relevant data.
The complaint filed Thursday does not seek a specific sum to be recovered.
“The reason for that is at this point we don’t know the dollar amount involved,” he said, noting that the criminal charges remove the privacy constraints that until now prevented the district from viewing the suspects’ bank records. “We can now commence the legal process to secure the documents.”