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July 14, 2024

Northern Illinois University: Plead guilty and we’ll pay for your attorney…

By John Kraft & Kirk Allen

On April 5, 2015

DeKalb, IL. (ECWd) –

Grab some popcorn because this one is one that plays out like a comedy, if only it weren’t true…

To be fair, this is not simply a Northern Illinois University problem, it appears to be a problem across all levels of state government.

Let’s say you are a state employee and work for, oh, NIU. You decide the above average paycheck and pension and healthcare and vacation days and all the other perks that come along with this state job are just too boring, you need to kick it up a notch and throw some parties…give some gifts…attend other social functions…just not with your own money. So you wake up one morning and say “Self, let’s go sell some “excess” stuff from our job-sites so we can pay for all these parties“, and that’s what you do… I forgot to mention you put the money in a private bank account…

This goes on for awhile and you are feeling proud of yourself because obviously no one is watching and you just keep on doing it, until, one day you find out someone was watching…and now you are facing felony criminal charges for theft, unauthorized control of public property, official misconduct, and a misdemeanor violation of the State Property Act.

Now what do you do?

You get an attorney, fight the charges brought against you by the State’s Attorney’s Office until you see no light at the end of the tunnel, then you make a plea deal to plead guilty to the misdemeanor charge if they drop all the felony charges. Cool! It happens all the time.

What happens next should shock the citizens of this state…

Now that these employees have plead guilty to criminal charges, they need a way to pay for their attorney – No better way than to have the State pay it for them!

That’s right, the Board of Trustees of Northern Illinois University gave away taxpayer money to pay the attorneys of three convicted criminals who got caught violating the law, while at work, at the University – AND – it is perfectly legal and within the rights of the Board to pay their attorney fees because their By-Laws and Board Policies specifically state that they can indemnify employees and officers, and pay their attorney fees incurred as long as it is not “ajudged” that the employees are found guilty and they were “acting in good faith” that they were acting in the best interest of the school and that they were not aware that they were acting unlawful.

The Board determined these people were acting in good faith when they were depositing state money in private bank accounts and throwing parties.

Isn’t that nice…especially since I don’t know of any prosecutors that would prosecute a state employee if they could not prove actual knowledge (frame of mind) that they were violating the law, and with the intent to violate the law.

Here is a recap: Get caught pilfering materials from job-sites and putting the money in private bank accounts, plead guilty, and the taxpayers pick up the attorney bills for your defense. Must be another perk of the job…

This cost us over $21,000 (here, here, and this one).


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  • ed franckowiak
    Posted at 07:54h, 05 April Reply

    John, Is there a problem with third “here” at the end. I see only one page and 21 blank pages.

    • jmkraft
      Posted at 08:20h, 05 April Reply

      I will upload it again…

  • john
    Posted at 08:01h, 05 April Reply

    This seems so wrong having committed a criminal act and then having the act approved by the NIU Board of trustees approving payment for their legal fees of the three who committed these criminal acts againest the school and its students. Wonder if someone could explain why this should be acceptable? How about 25 words or less from the Board of Trustees. Just think, a shop lifter walking into a store and taking merchandise from the store without paying. Now your caught in the act. Now you plead guilty in a court of law and then ask the store owner to help pay for you legal bills. These trustees should consider seeking counciling or seek to change this policy in the next board meeting. This could be a get out of jail card they made need in the future so why change it. I recommed they strongly consider resigning!

  • Chris M. Gaines
    Posted at 10:00h, 05 April Reply

    WOW! Public Corruption at it’s finest or worst depending on who you are, evidently. Who is ultimately responsible for ALL our public servants though? We the People are obviously, we pay for it (their criminal activities) not them. Quit making excuses and just complaining about it privately and publicly…and hold these criminals, these people, our public servants accountable for their actions in breaking our laws in Illinois.. Quit playing. Take action. Get MORE involved. Get MORE informed. Pray MORE. Demand electoral reforms and government transparency and FOIA REQUEST public information MORE, attend more public board meetings regularly and take advantage of the public comment time allotted at board meetings as required by our Illinois OMA laws…and then actually VOTE REGULARLY like your life depended on it because in reality it does. Please consider this and all that my brothers and sisters. Have a nice day today…Happy Easter!

  • Rory Steidl
    Posted at 10:26h, 05 April Reply

    What ever happened to tar and feathering ?

  • Sharon May
    Posted at 14:27h, 05 April Reply

    I am very gratified to see that others share my outrage at the legal fee reimbursements to these three individuals.

    However, in all fairness, a few more details. The total amount of scrap taken was approx. $11K over about 7 years. This money was spent mostly—as the name implies—on coffee for a dept. of 20+ people. The balance may have been spent on holiday parties, i.e. Christmas; but it was spent on the ingredients so the employees could prepare food for the parties held in the departmental break room. This does not mean I condone their actions. However, if their divisional leader (Albanese) had let them know how to make the request, these funds could have been added to their budget for these items. As this use would have been allowed, it seems to me this is more of a procedural error rather than criminal.

    Therefore, although I do not believe that they should have been charged in the first place, these three did voluntarily enter into a plea of guilty; and because of that, it is an outrage that they had their legal fees reimbursed.

    • jmkraft
      Posted at 14:46h, 05 April Reply

      I understand that, but just the fact that they put the money gained in a private bank account proves they, or at least the supervisor, knew they were in violation of the law. On a side note – I believe the University is amending their indemnification policy to prevent this in the future.

      My next question is who do they think they are to ask the taxpayers to fund their coffee, snacks, etc.? They get a check, they can buy their own, using their own money.

      • Sharon May
        Posted at 15:16h, 05 April Reply

        A little more on the history (as I have been told). This account was set up years (decades?) ago, when the departmental employees self funded the account; most of the employees were not there at the account’s initiation. Somewhere along the line, someone (rumor has it that it was Albanese) got the bright idea to divert some scrap from assets purchased with local or bond funds, not state funds–with the one exception of some scrap from library shelves.

  • $man
    Posted at 15:55h, 05 April Reply

    The employees at NIU sound like they have alot in common with the employee(secretary)at the Arcola Twp.Just for review,she took a 4 state motorcycle trip on Township funded credit cards.After being caught by the Watchdogs,the Township board,led by the inept supervisor Corky Clark,took the credit cards away and gave her a $4600.00 bonus!Now the Township is caught up in 7 lawsuits.because of this and other misdeeds(not releasing information asked for in FOIA’s)and paying a lawyer to keep possible criminal issues from going public.The Taxpayers are staring to get a bellyfull,just last weak a sign was placed on the door reading”liars and thieves “.Now to some that may seem a little strong,but sometimes the truth can be a little strong.

  • Big n Bowdre
    Posted at 17:27h, 05 April Reply

    Hey Arcola how much money do you people have in your legal fund?If you keep going I’ll bet you could chip and oil 1/2 the township with the money you’ve spent on Petty.Deana may live here in Bowdre but she’s running you guys,to bad it’s into the ground!Poor old Corky,not only does he not have any control,he does’nt have a clue.

  • Chris M. Gaines
    Posted at 20:59h, 05 April Reply

    Impunity arises from a failure of the State to meet their obligations to investigate criminal or civil violations to the law; to take appropriate measures in respect of the perpetrators, particularly in the area of justice, by ensuring that those suspected of criminal or civil responsibility are prosecuted, tried and duly punished; to provide victims with effective remedies and to ensure that they receive reparation for the injuries suffered; to ensure the inalienable right to know the truth about violations; and to take other necessary steps to prevent a recurrence of violations.

    A better question is,why are organized crime Family members and violent drug cartel members protected and allowed to operate in Coles County and surrounding areas with impunity and absolutely no consequences for their actions and instead rewarded with huge cash profits from their ongoing criminal activities for years and years in the Mattoon/Charleston Illinois area?

  • roger
    Posted at 07:46h, 06 April Reply

    Who are these people?

    • jmkraft
      Posted at 09:55h, 06 April Reply

      They are named in the downloadable pdfs at the bottom of the article.

  • roger
    Posted at 11:28h, 06 April Reply

    Don’t think you have the full truthful story here. There’s a lot more to it!

    • jmkraft
      Posted at 11:40h, 06 April Reply

      I realize there is a lot more to it, but the message I wanted to get out there was that public bodies are paying legal defense invoices for people that are either convicted in court or plead guilty to criminal acts while in their employment. I know there are other circumstances and other people involved in this case, but the bottom line is they knew it was wrong or they wouldn’t have placed the money in a private bank account to avoid the scrutiny that comes with public bank accounts, and to avoid the restrictions placed on expenditure of public funds – which is what they were.

  • All is Fair
    Posted at 15:51h, 06 April Reply

    Is there an acceptable amount of money you can take before it is stealing ? In Arcola township there is, stealing a little is alright , no one has really set that limit yet but the upstanding board members that we have here are going to tell the taxpayers what that amount is, probably when the send out there budget next month. It looks as though that mentality is here also

  • all is not fair
    Posted at 13:30h, 07 April Reply

    2 people that have been at Arcola township for almost 30 years know what’s been taken,WE the TAXPAYER do not.Township Supervisor Corky Clark and his puppet board could fix this whole lawsuit mess but can’t or won’t cross Mark or Deana,so they spend our tax money (not hers) fighting the lawsuits.

  • Mike
    Posted at 23:18h, 28 April Reply

    State Senator Michaell Connelly (R-Naperville-21st) filed Senate Bill 1102 & Senate Bill 1145 in the 99th General Assembly to prevent taxpayer funds from being used to pay for criminal attorney fees for state and local employees.

  • Tax Payers Dollars Hard at Work
    Posted at 19:00h, 12 May Reply

    On the flipside, NIU should pay for legal expenses that they have forced upon employees when the president decided to black ball and black mail employees to get them to vacate their positions so he could place his own people loyal to him. “Just retire and all this will go away.” The employees that stayed to fight the lies were stuck paying their own legal expenses after they won their cases and are ordered to be reinstated to their positions by the merit board. Where the justice for these employees?

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