Kane Co. union scrutinizes court security fund

Posted5/31/2010 12:01 AM

Kane County's court security officers say they might be getting shortchanged through the county's handling of a special fund earmarked for their services.

Last week, the Policemen's Benevolent Labor Committee, which represents the officers, issued a news release claiming the county has been "moving funds in and out" of an account meant only for court security, and the "suspicious activity" is now under review by the state's attorney's office.


State's Attorney John Barsanti confirmed he is taking a look at the union's claims, but said he hasn't considered it a criminal investigation so far.

"At this point, I don't know that anybody's done anything wrong," he said.

According to the union - which is trying to negotiate a new contract after working without one for two years - the fund is financed through criminal and civil court filing fees that, under state law, must be spent on court security.

At week's end, the fund contained about $987,000, with a projected budget of $2 million, according to county Finance Director Cheryl Pattelli, who said incoming court fees are down.

"We're actually seeing a decline of about 51/2 percent this year," she said.

County Board Chairman Karen McConnaughay flatly denied that the board has done anything with the fund. She said it's managed by Sheriff Pat Perez and, to a lesser extent, Chief Judge F. Keith Brown.

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According to Perez, the bulk of the fund covers salaries and training, but it also covered about $10,000 in bulletproof vests for security officers in the last year.

He and Brown both said they knew of no inappropriate uses.

"I am not aware of any suspicious activity regarding these funds," Brown said. "But, because of these allegations, I am investigating the matter myself, personally."

Attorney Tim O'Neil, who represents the labor committee, couldn't be reached for comment Friday.

Time of the season: With the arrival of warm weather, and graduation season in full gear, Campton Hills police are urging the public to be proactive in combating teen drinking this summer.

"Underage drinking is dangerous, illegal, and has far-reaching liability to adults who facilitate it," Chief Dan Hoffman said in a news release.

Adults who provide alcohol to minors, or throw parties where there is underage drinking, should know they can be charged with a Class A misdemeanor, police said. And, if a minor dies or is seriously injured as a result, the charge can be upgraded to a Class 4 felony punishable by up to three years in prison.

Senior seminar: Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan and her staff will be in Aurora on Tuesday to teach senior citizens about reverse mortgages, new credit card rules, and how to avoid counterfeit check scams.

The free program is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. to noon at the Aurora Police Department, 1200 E. Indian Trail Road, with a luncheon to follow at Senior Services of Aurora, 900 N. Lake St. For lunch reservations, call (630) 897-4035.