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updated: 9/27/2012 6:46 PM

Mixed bag of bad behavior in tollway report

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  • James Wagner

      James Wagner

 
 

Irregularities in a contract with a minority-owned business, collectors scamming the system, and an abusive manager were among the findings in a report released Thursday by the Illinois tollway's inspector general.

An investigation dating back to 2007 turned up evidence that has led to Inspector General James Wagner recommending that the tollway not hire Chicago-based D&B Construction again.

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D&B was hired as a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) subcontractor to work with the prime contractor, K-Five Construction Corp., on a road project. Illinois law encourages the inclusion of DBE firms -- owned by minorities or women -- as a percentage of state contracts.

When D&B ran into financial difficulties and couldn't buy the materials it needed for the work, K-Five offered to pay for them and bill the subcontractor later, which is contrary to regulations, Wagner said. Another problem was that the tollway's former Chief of Procurement Rosalinda Castillo informed D&B it had won the contract prior to a board vote and approved waiving the rules, he noted. Castillo left the tollway in 2008.

Wagner also recommended that contractors be required to be more diligent about checking subcontractors' qualifications before partnering with them. He did note that the DBE program was new in 2007 and there was a learning curve involved.

"We recommended not allowing the tollway to contract with (D&B) ... because they were serving only as a pass-through since there's no indication they are capable of doing this kind of work," Wagner said.

Castillo had no comment on the report. D&B Construction could not be reached for comment. The state's chief procurement officer is looking into the inspector general's findings, officials said.

Wagner also reported:

• Two former toll collectors pleaded guilty to official misconduct in separate incidents in which they pocketed money from drivers while pretending the transactions involved emergency vehicles, which don't pay tolls.

• A former tollway maintenance manager pleaded guilty to misdemeanor battery for grabbing and choking an employee.

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