A former Des Plaines police commander is charged with making false statements in federal reports that led to the police department fraudulently receiving $132,893 in overtime reimbursements for drunken driving enforcement campaigns.
Timothy Veit, 55, of Mount Prospect is facing a maximum of five years in prison if convicted of the felony charge filed Wednesday by the U.S. attorney's office in Chicago.
Federal prosecutors said Veit oversaw the department's administration of the federally funded Sustained Traffic Enforcement Program and, between 2009 and 2012, inflated drunken driving arrests in order to receive additional funding from the program. Prosecutors said Veit reported 122 "fictitious" DUI arrests.
Veit signed off on the paperwork submitted to the Illinois Department of Transportation, which includes a form documenting arrests, citations and hours worked by employees.
Veit doesn't have a listed phone number and couldn't be reached for comment. He will be allowed to voluntarily surrender to authorities once an arraignment is scheduled, at which time he would enter a plea and bail would be set, said Randall Samborn, spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office.
Veit, who retired in April 2012 after 31 years with the department, was paid overtime in the amounts of $25,603 in 2011, $11,530 in 2010 and $3,042 in 2009, according to city documents. Those amounts are for overtime for all reasons; it's not clear how much was funded by the grant.
"Veit betrayed the city of Des Plaines, the police department and violated the public trust," Des Plaines Police Chief William Kushner said Wednesday in reaction to the charges. "It's always unfortunate when someone violates their oath of office and chooses to drag their good name and their department's through the mud by committing a crime."
Also, 13 rank-and-file police officers are facing suspensions for violating department rules and policies related to "irregularities" with the reporting of hours worked on the campaigns, Kushner said. He said he doesn't anticipate further discipline.
For the 2011-12 fiscal year, Des Plaines was awarded a $115,236 grant from STEP -- the highest amount in the Northwest suburbs. Between 2009 and 2012, IDOT authorized $170,366 in STEP funds for Des Plaines' impaired-driving enforcement efforts.
IDOT last spring suspended the grant after the city notified it of potential problems. The city also launched an internal audit and retained an outside law firm to help.
Kushner ordered the officers' suspensions at the conclusion of the nearly six-month internal investigation two weeks ago.
The officers have 30 days to appeal through the police union. They may request arbitration or a hearing in front of the police and fire commission, or they may agree to take the suspension time without contest. Suspensions likely will be staggered and carried out over a long period to lessen the impact on manpower levels.
Kushner said he is worried about the effect on public opinion and the morale of the department.
"This is not representative of the entire Des Plaines Police Department," Kushner said. "It's actually painted the entire department with a broad brush, which is not necessarily fair. The overwhelming majority of officers are good, honest, hardworking, possessed of high moral character and great integrity.
"We've put things in place where we're not going to have this repeat."
Kushner said the department has no control over Veit's police pension, which is administered by an independent pension board. "If he's convicted, where if he pleads to felonies committed while on the job, the pension board can vote to stop his pension payments, withdraw his pension benefits," Kushner said.