A former Regional Transportation Authority director showed an appearance of impropriety by drumming up business for a bank that was suing him for defaulting on loans, the Illinois inspector general has concluded.
The state probe also found the Rev. Tyrone Crider, pastor of Mount Calvary Baptist Church in Chicago, engaged in an appearance of impropriety by requesting RTA Chief of Staff Jordan Matyas to ask Matyas' sister-in-law, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, to "take care" of an investigation into his misuse of funds.
"Crider clearly did not conduct himself so as to avoid the appearance of being unethical," stated the Executive Office of the Inspector General report, which was released Friday.
Crider did not return a call seeking comment.
"The RTA turned this matter over to the OEIG," spokeswoman Susan Massel said, speaking for the agency.
"The RTA takes this finding, and the events leading up to it, very seriously," she added, noting the agency cooperated with investigators.
In 2006, Crider obtained two loans totaling more than $68,000 from Highland Bank, a minority-owned Chicago business. The bank sued him in early 2009, stating the pastor had failed to make payments.
In fall 2009, Crider intervened on the bank's behalf with the RTA, asking why the agency had not renewed a $100,000 certificate of deposit. The RTA subsequently renewed the investment, investigators said. In 2012, Crider asked for a list of minority banks the agency worked with and then complained to Matyas that the RTA was not being "fair." Subsequently, the RTA invested $250,000 with Highland Bank after the bank agreed to offer a "favorable interest rate," officials testified.
Investigators did not find Crider "received a benefit from Highland Bank," in exchange for the investment but his conduct had "at least the appearance of impropriety," the state found.
In 2011, the Illinois attorney general's office took Crider to court, stating that he misused a $91,000 state grant intended to encourage children to stay in high school and enroll in college. Crider, acting on behalf of a group known as the Pastors Network, received the grant in 2001. But he spent grant funds contrary to the purpose of the agreement and failed to produce documentation, officials said.
Matyas told investigators that in late summer 2012 Crider asked him to appeal to Madigan to "take care" of the issue. Matyas testified he advised Crider to hire an attorney and reported his request to the RTA's ethics officer.
State officials noted that Crider had resigned from the RTA in 2013 but recommended that he not be appointed to any future state boards.