Pyke: Authorities say man took more than $280,000 from Pace
According to federal prosecutors, a computer expert at Pace conned thousands in kickbacks right under the noses of executives over a period of five years.
Rajinder Sachdeva, a 51-year-old Schaumburg computer expert, was arrested by the FBI on April 15 and accused of taking more than $280,000 through Pace contractors.
Don't rush to judgment, his defense attorney Darryl Goldberg said. "There's two sides to every story, and we look forward to clearing Mr. Sachdeva's good name," Goldberg said.
In the meantime, Sachdeva is suspended without pay. A verdict is months away, but the criminal complaint raises questions about who's minding the store at the suburban bus service, an oasis of stability amid controversies at its sister agencies.
"Pace remains an active partner with federal law enforcement in the investigation that led to the charges," spokesman Patrick Wilmot said. "Although we are limited in what we can say and what information we can provide about the case in light of the ongoing investigation, we are committed to earning and maintaining the public's trust."
Internally, "a separate, parallel effort is already underway to analyze the entire situation, which includes an extensive review of internal procedures and processes along with both internal and external audits," Wilmot added.
Sachdeva joined Pace as a department manager of applications on Jan. 4, 2010.
Previously, he worked as a consultant for Synchronous Solutions, a Pace IT contractor. He also was a silent partner in a tech consulting firm, the government said.
Sachdeva's job included supervising IT contractors handling human resources, accounting and purchasing systems, and appointing employees to a purchasing committee that evaluates tech vendors.
What unfolded, prosecutors say, is an elaborate scheme involving contractors, subcontractors and pseudonyms.
In December 2009, authorities say, Sachdeva contacted a Synchronous Systems recruiter offering to find a replacement for himself. Then, on his first day at Pace, he forwarded the name of a candidate (dubbed Contractor A) to the recruiter.
Subsequently, Sachdeva's consulting firm hired the candidate (Contractor A) and outsourced him to Synchronous and, later, another contractor, Senryo Technologies, to provide IT support to Pace.
From 2010 through spring 2013, Contractor A gave Sachdeva $218,262 in salary kickbacks out of the $740,282 Pace paid, the FBI said.
Contractor A felt uneasy about the situation and exited in spring 2013, Sachdeva's business partner told the FBI.
Enter Contractor B, another IT pro hired by Sachdeva's company. Through Sachdeva's intervention, Contractor B subcontracted with Senryo in mid-2013, prosecutors said. From 2013 through 2014, at least $246,000 was paid out by Pace and Senryo for Contractor's B services. Sachdeva's cut was more than $64,000, the complaint states.
In 2014, Sachdeva acquired a third IT consultant (Contractor C) and hooked her up with another Pace contractor, Bourntec Solutions, according to the complaint.
Contractor C, a former Pace systems analyst, was told by Sachdeva to use the pseudonym "Sue Peters" in her invoices to Bourntec. Documents show she billed Bourntec $4,250 for work as "Sue Peters," which the firm and Pace paid but Sachdeva's business partner later returned, authorities allege.
I asked Pace if the agency has any revolving-door policies with firewalls to prevent conflicts of interest, and if any thought was given to potential ethics issues given Sachdeva would work on contracts with his former colleagues.
Wilmot said he was limited in what he could say, but the agency follows the state's revolving-door laws. Those would prohibit employees from taking a job with a company if they were involved with awarding a contract over $25,000 to that company within a year of leaving Pace.
There's no state reverse revolving-door policy to prevent conflicts involving people coming from the private to the public sector.
"Our inability to answer some of these questions has everything to do with not jeopardizing the investigation or court proceedings, and nothing to do with avoiding our responsibility to the public," Wilmot said.
Asked if Pace was scrutinizing invoices from Synchronous, Senryo and Bourntec, Wilmot repeated that "an extensive review is underway ... that likely could identify whether existing management controls should be tightened or changed."
Got an opinion on the investigation? Drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Metra will hold its first Public Safety Committee meeting at 9 a.m. May 8 at 547 Jackson St., Chicago. You can catch the board's road show at 10:30 a.m. May 14 at the McHenry County Administration Building, 667 Ware Road, Woodstock.
Drive safely and may the Force be with you.
• In Naperville and Aurora, traffic slims from two lanes to one on northbound Route 59 from Jefferson Avenue/Liberty Street to North Aurora Road. Work starts Wednesday and lasts until fall.
• Going to Glenview? Expect lane reductions on Route 21 over the UP Railroad between Glenview Road and Castilian Court Monday.
The Regional Transportation Authority has revamped its mapping and statistics website (RTAMS). You can find maps, routes and stations, ridership data, train and bus data, plus info such as towns that have housing near transit. To dive into the statistical pool, go to www.rtams.org/rtams/home.jsp.