A former College of DuPage radio station employee accused of defrauding the school of more than $100,000 likely will face prison time after pleading guilty Tuesday morning.
John J. Valenta, 67, of Wheaton, pleaded guilty to theft by deception of more than $100,000 from a school. In exchange for his plea, prosecutors agreed to cap their sentencing recommendation at 10 years in prison.
Valenta's next court date is April 18 and he will be sentenced May 19.
He was charged in February 2015 with multiple counts of theft and forgery related to his tenure as a part-time engineer at WDCB 90.9-FM.
Prosecutors allege that while working at the radio station from June 10, 2006, through Dec. 19, 2013, Valenta billed the college for more than $200,000 from his private company, Broadcast Technologies, including invoices for parts that were never used and labor that was never performed.
"An audit revealed that between June 10, 2006, and Dec. 2, 2013, the defendant submitted Broadcast Technologies invoices to the College of DuPage for merchandise that was purportedly being replaced at WDCB radio station," Assistant State's Attorney Ken Tatarelis told Judge Liam Brennan. "The College of DuPage paid approximately $200,829.77, based on those invoices where the merchandise that was listed in those invoices was never delivered to WDCB radio station."
Tatarelis said Valenta told police in January 2014 that he submitted false invoices because he felt he should have been employed full time at the station. He also said he needed money to support his six children, including one with special needs.
Valenta told police that only about 10 percent of the invoices he billed to the college were legitimate and some of the fictitious invoices were created to compensate for the hazard of having to climb the radio station's tower five or six times that year.
At the time of his arrest, Valenta was on probation for a 2011 conviction for submitting $11,000 in fake invoices to Elmhurst College for services at that school's radio station.
Brennan previously ruled that prosecutors would not have been allowed to disclose that information had the case gone to trial, which was scheduled to begin Wednesday.
"Mr. Valenta's fraud violated the public trust in addition to harming the college," COD President Ann Rondeau said in a written statement. "Now that he has admitted his guilt, the college will continue its efforts to ensure that he is held fully accountable, including by seeking restitution."