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posted: 2/19/2014 5:30 AM

Des Plaines to pay back IDOT for misusing grant

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The city of Des Plaines will pay the Illinois Department of Transportation $92,000 in a settlement over the police department's misuse of grant funds for traffic enforcement programs.

City Manager Mike Bartholomew said Tuesday an agreement was reached by both sides last week following six months of negotiations, and two years after allegations about mismanagement of the funds came to light.

The settlement amount, city officials said, is far less than the full amount of grant money IDOT originally wanted refunded. The city received grants of $115,236 and $170,366.

The police department applied for and was awarded state and federal grants for DUI and seat belt enforcement campaigns between 2009 and 2012, but during that time, the department was charged with overreporting the number of DUI arrests to receive additional funding from the program. Internal and external investigations also found 13 police officers misrepresented the number of hours they worked, for which they received grant-funded overtime compensation.

IDOT suspended the grant in early 2012 after the city notified it of potential problems.

"The fact that the city self-reported the misuse of funds, conducted its own thorough investigation and audit, changed internal procedures to help prevent similar problems in the future, penalized the officers involved, and worked with IDOT in the spirit of cooperation and transparency is one of the main reasons we were able to reach this settlement and spare taxpayers from protracted litigation and costly litigation expenses," said John Webber, IDOT's interim director of traffic safety, in a joint news release issued by the city late Tuesday.

Federal prosecutors say former police Cmdr. Timothy Veit, 56, of Mount Prospect, was responsible for signing off on the paperwork submitted to IDOT. Veit, who retired in April 2012 after 31 years with the department, pleaded not guilty to charges last year. His case is still pending.

Early last year, the 13 officers charged with misrepresenting the number of hours worked served suspensions ranging from seven to 60 days and also agreed to make restitution to the city ranging from $184 to $787.

The city will be allowed to apply again for IDOT enforcement grants starting on Sept. 30, 2015.

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