Former DuPage forest exec convicted of official misconduct

The DuPage County Forest Preserve District's former information technology manager, David Tepper, was found guilty Thursday of 27 of 142 charges in a long-running case in which he and a vendor were accused of conspiring to steal from the district.

Tepper, 51, of River Forest, stared straight ahead as DuPage Judge Liam Brennan found him guilty of one charge of official misconduct and 26 charges of unlawful participation.

During the same hearing Thursday, Brennan threw out the two remaining conspiracy charges against the vendor, Arif Mahmood.

Mahmood, 39, of Glendale Heights, wiped away tears as Brennan found him not guilty of two bribery and unlawful participation charges.

Tepper and former forest preserve IT Director Mark McDonald were accused of using a company they co-owned, Integrated Design Solutions, to bill the district for equipment and services that never were delivered.

McDonald, 55, of Wheaton, is charged and awaiting trial.

Mahmood was accused of participating in the second scheme with Tepper and McDonald. Prosecutors claimed that Alamach Technology Inc. - a now-defunct company Mahmood owned - overbilled the district for contracted work and subcontracted for Integrated Design Solutions.

But late last month, Brennan dismissed dozens of felony theft and kickback charges against Tepper and Mahmood.

Tepper was found not guilty of all charges stemming from allegations he profited from contracts the forest preserve had with Mahmood's company.

Brennan ruled that Alamach performed "a significant amount of work" for the district and at a reasonable cost.

Brennan, however, said Tepper broke the law in 2009 when he failed to disclose to the district that he was a commissioned agent for a digital services company - US Digital - that had been suggested to and hired by the district to install a new telephone system. Tepper then funneled that $80,000 commission into his and McDonald's company.

"He did not disclose that he was a US Digital agent. He did not disclose his relationship to the vendor. He did not fill out a supplementary employment form, and he paid McDonald half of the proceeds," Brennan said.

"Simply put, (Tepper) willingly broke the law on multiple occasions," DuPage County State's Attorney Robert Berlin said in a written statement. "As a public employee his actions are inexcusable and he will now be held accountable. It is always unfortunate when a public employee is accused of misconduct."

Tepper's attorney, Terry Ekl, plans to file a post-trial motion to reconsider the ruling on Oct. 28.

"This was the most grossly overcharged case in the history of DuPage County," Ekl said outside court.

Ekl said Tepper knew the outcome was a realistic possibility from the start of the case.

"The only issue in this case was related to his relationship with US Digital," Ekl said. "And he was aware of that."

Forest preserve President Joseph Cantore, reached after the ruling, said he was unaware of what happened in the proceedings and declined to comment.

McDonald was to be tried with Tepper and Mahmood, but last-minute health issues forced him to be removed from the case and eventually be tried separately.

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Arif Mahmood
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