A former DuPage County Forest Preserve District IT director must now serve a 180-day jail sentence after the Second District Appellate Court of Illinois affirmed his conviction on unlawful participation and official misconduct charges.
DuPage Judge Liam Brennan on Friday ordered David Tepper, 52, to turn himself in to DuPage County jail on Oct. 11. Tepper also was ordered to pay $104,572 in court costs and fines. He has remained free pending the Appellate Court's ruling.
"I would like to thank the Appellate Court for their extremely thorough and detailed review of (Tepper's) case," DuPage County State's Attorney Robert Berlin said in a written statement. "The Appellate Court's decision affirms our contention, plain and simple, that (Tepper) took advantage of his position with the forest preserve to line his pockets with more than $80,000 of ill-gotten gains."
Tepper's October 2015 conviction was based on allegations that as an employee of the forest preserve district he gained authorization from the district to enter into a contract with USA Digital without informing the district's board that he also worked for USA Digital.
Once the contract was agreed upon by both parties, Tepper collected roughly $80,000 from USA Digital as a commission fee.
In his appeal, Tepper first argued that the trial court erred in that a conviction of the offense of unlawful participation could not be based on an omission of fact -- Tepper's failure to inform the district that he also worked for USA Digital -- but rather would have to be based on concrete actions taken by Tepper to deceive.
Tepper also argued that his employment with USA Digital did not constitute an intent to defraud the forest preserve because there was no financial loss to the district. In fact, Tepper argued, the district received the services for which it contracted.
In addressing Tepper's first argument, the Appellate Court found his deception was carried out in large part by his silence about his employment at USA Digital. The Appellate Court found that "like speech, silence can be intentionally misleading" and that intentional silence was an action purposely taken by Tepper.
In regard to Tepper's second argument, the Appellate Court found that an entity need not suffer a financial loss to be the victim of a crime. The Appellate Court stated in its decision that it cannot be said "as a practical matter that the district suffered no loss here" noting that Tepper's actions caused the district to suffer "the diminished opportunity to obtain a more financially favorable contract" and that it "lost control over to whom the money was paid."