Report finds IDOT employees faked reports about helping distressed drivers

  • Fourteen IDOT drivers were disciplined for boosting the numbers of drivers they've helped on the road.

    Fourteen IDOT drivers were disciplined for boosting the numbers of drivers they've helped on the road. Courtesy of ABC 7 Chicago

 
 
Updated 12/17/2016 4:15 PM

Fourteen Illinois Department of Transportation workers were disciplined after a lengthy state investigation found they were submitting "false and fraudulent" reports about helping area drivers in distress.

The 95-page audit, released by the Illinois Inspector General's office Friday, detailed the four-year investigation into IDOT's emergency traffic patrol division, beginning in 2012.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The report found that drivers in the unit "have been, for years, inflating the number of assists performed by submitting ... reports for assists that never happened at all, and also submitting numerous other reports containing inaccurate information."

The reports were cited as a factor in determining the division's annual budget, and as a measure for drivers' annual evaluations.

A total of six employees -- two supervisors and four drivers -- were fired as a result of the investigation. Another eight employees -- two supervisors and six drivers -- were suspended. Employees' salaries ranged from $122,247 to $39,127.

Bruce Harmening, IDOT's chief of the department's investigation and compliance bureau, said in an August letter to acting Inspector General Margaret Hickey that in addition to firing and disciplining employees, the emergency traffic patrol division has also "implemented controls to prevent and discourage fraudulent reporting."

Those steps include retraining drivers, and requiring assist reports to be completed by drivers on site and signed by shift supervisors.

One of the drivers, John Shealey, responded to the report by noting he was "not treated right in the investigation." Others were not immediately reached for comment.

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