Civilian employee accused of stealing funds from Elgin Explorer program
Elgin's top animal control officer has been accused of stealing more than $6,000 from the police department's Explorer youth program, officials said Monday.
James Rog, 36, of South Elgin was a 14-year civilian employee with the police department and adviser for the Explorer program for 10 years. He resigned after his arrest Monday, when he turned himself in.
He is charged with two felony counts of theft and two felony counts of official misconduct, Elgin Police Chief Jeff Swoboda said at a news conference.
The $6,000 comprised a significant portion of the program's funds garnered from fundraisers and dues paid by its roughly 50 youth participants between 14 and 20 years old, Swoboda said.
"I am disgusted," Swoboda said. "I am again upset about a public servant falling short of the expectation that the community has of us. I am very, very disappointed, and the kids need to realize that this is no reflection on them or the great work that they do. I am very proud of our Explorer Post."
Swoboda said officials learned on Nov. 4 of an unauthorized bank checking account being used by the Elgin Police Explorer Post. The account had been opened in March 2012 and Rog had made withdrawals from it for personal expenses ever since until it was discovered and audited in November, he added.
The city has an official account for the Explorer program, opened in 2015, where the funds should have been deposited but weren't, Swoboda said.
Elgin's audit of its Explorer program's finances was spurred by the now infamous case of Fox Lake police Lt. Charles Joseph Gliniewicz, who stole money from that department's Explorer youth program and later staged his suicide as part of an elaborate cover up.
"When information was released that criminal activity was afoot there, we decided to look at our own procedures and to make sure that couldn't happen here in Elgin," Swoboda said. "When you see something happening someplace else, recognizing that those things potentially could happen here, that's why we started the investigation."
Officials would not comment on how the Explorer program's finances were being tracked before 2015. No other police employee was implicated as being involved in swindling funds, Swoboda said.
Rog, who was named the department's Civilian of the Year in February 2014, also has served as court liaison officer. In 2013, he was instrumental in an animal cruelty and child neglect case involving nine dogs and several children.
Before he resigned, Rog had been placed on paid administrative leave during the investigation.
He was released after posting 10 percent of his $40,000 bail Monday afternoon. Rog is set to appear for a hearing on Feb. 3 at the Kane County courthouse.
Swoboda said he was proud of the department's handling of the investigation internally.
"I don't think the public ever expects that public servants are going to be perfect," he said. "But I think what they do expect is when someone does fall short of expectations is they are held accountable ... it says a lot about the professionalism of the Elgin Police Department."
Cmdr. Ana Lalley has taken over supervision of the Explorer program, while the second-in-command at animal control has taken over those duties, Swoboda said.