DuPage Co. (ECWd) –
While doing numerous searches on the internet over the last several months we, found information on donations made by chief Jack Mancione to the Cancun Mexico fire department. This struck me as odd considering the needs of other more local fire departments in this state and others. The article didn’t provide specifics as to what equipment had been donated to this out of country fire department, other than Naperville giving away a ladder truck, so we decided to find out.
We downloaded and reviewed all the meeting minutes of the Tri-State Fire Protection District from their website for the six months prior to the donation. Since I couldn’t find any reference to the donation in that six month review I went back another six months and again found nothing.
Equipment disposal forms were requested under FOIA to see what equipment was donated. All the forms received showed where equipment was disposed of or donated. For example in May of 2015 old winter jackets were given to a charity called the Citizens Emergency Response Team in Naperville. In September of 2015 a Toxic Ray meter was disposed of because of a bad sensor.
The FOIA did not show equipment being donated to Cancun Mexico.
We then sent a FOIA request to the Naperville Fire Department to find out what was donated by the chief of Tri State. Their response showed that Tri State had donated fire boots, pants, coats and flashlights. (See attached pdf or spreadsheet)
With this information we sent another FOIA to Tri State and received an incomplete disposal equipment inventory form from November of 2014 for that same equipment but it did not show where this equipment was donated or disposed of. (See attached)
We also found this odd since the Illinois Fire Protection District Act, 70 ILCS 705/10a says “The board of trustees of any fire protection district incorporated under this act may sell, lease or exchange personalty and may sell or lease realty owned by the district no longer needed for fire protection purposes.” Personalty is the legal term for personal or movable property by Black’s Law Dictionary definition. Equipment disposal by the board of trustees is usually handled by resolution as found in Lisle-Woodridge Fire District Resolution 15-10. (See attached).
What I found missing for the previous year was any Tri-State trustee discussion of the selling, leasing or exchange of the gear in question. The district did not vote on any resolutions authorizing the disposal of property owned by the Tri State Fire Protection District. (COD lack of authorization link?) So what we have is a chief that donated equipment on behalf of the district (see article) without authorization to do so and at best an incomplete disposal equipment inventory form that was signed by Deputy Chief William Just.
What is it called when someone obtains or exerts unauthorized control over property of the owner? Illinois calls that Theft (720 ILCS 5/61-1(a)(1)). What happens when someone commits theft of government property in Illinois? They are guilty of a Class 4 felony (720 ILCS 5/61-1(b)(1.1). What happens when the person who commits theft of government property is a public officer acting in their official capacity? They are guilty of Official Misconduct (720 ILCS 5/33-3(a)). If found guilty that same person commits a Class 3 felony and forfeits his office or employment (720 ILCS 5/33(d)). This is a question that the Clark County Circuit Clerk may be able to answer soon (see article).
Why would the chief go through such lengths to donate gear to the city of Cancun Mexico?