'Dirt log,' highway commissioner's desk calendar among the items sought in FBI raid

  • Robert Czernek

    Robert Czernek

  • Federal agents sought records of Bloomingdale Township Road Department contractor payments and Highway Supervisor Robert Czernek's desk calendar in a January raid, a search warrant shows.

      Federal agents sought records of Bloomingdale Township Road Department contractor payments and Highway Supervisor Robert Czernek's desk calendar in a January raid, a search warrant shows. Marni Pyke | Staff Photographer

 
 
Posted3/9/2020 5:30 AM

When federal agents raided the Bloomingdale Township Road Department in January, their targets included Highway Commissioner Robert Czernek's desk calendar, a "dirt log," and financial records involving three construction contractors, a search warrant shows.

Of those construction companies, two have donated thousands to Czernek's political campaigns, according to state records.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Czernek did not respond to interview requests, and his attorney Michael D. Monico said the commissioner could not comment.

The raid on Jan. 21 was related to "conduct within the highway department and a handful of its vendors," Bloomingdale Township Supervisor Michael Hovde Jr. said at the time.

Pat Brady, an attorney representing Bloomingdale Township, said on Thursday that "because this is an ongoing investigation, we do not want to make any comments."

Hovde "did call for Czernek's resignation and still calls for his resignation," Brady added.

Items investigators sought included "all items related to Tri-State Express, Bulldog Earth Movers, Neri Brothers Construction" and two individuals, according to a search warrant obtained through a Daily Herald Freedom of Information Act request.

Since 2012, Roselle-based Neri Brothers Construction has contributed more than $16,000 to the Friends of Robert Czernek campaign fund, including $6,000 in October 2017 and $3,750 in October 2016, Illinois State Board of Elections data indicates.

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Czernek, who was reelected in April 2017, has not been charged with any wrongdoing.

A person who answered the phone at Neri Brothers Construction declined to comment.

Bulldog Earth Movers, located in Bloomingdale, gave $5,250 to Czernek's campaign between 2010 and 2017. The business's listed phone number is out of service.

Other evidence on the FBI's wish list included: highway department invoices from 2014 through 2019, employee and contractor work records, surveillance systems including video images, and handwritten notes concerning excavation, construction and other road work.

A receipt for items seized from the road department shows agents secured a folder labeled "dirt log," invoices, notepads and calendars.

Bloomingdale Township is separate from the roads department and was not the subject of the search warrant, township officials stressed.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The probe comes amid a spiraling federal corruption investigation unfolding in Chicago and the suburbs with ties to transportation spending. But it's not clear if there's any connection to the Bloomingdale Township Road Department probe.

This fall, FBI agents raided former state Sen. Martin Sandoval's office in Springfield, along with the villages of Lyons, McCook and Summit. A search warrant indicates investigators were interested in items related to highway and construction companies, red-light cameras, lobbyists and communications with IDOT officials.

Sandoval, the former Senate Transportation Committee chairman, resigned Nov. 27 and pleaded guilty Jan. 28 to accepting bribes related to red-light cameras.

Got an opinion or question? Drop an email to mpyke@dailyherald.com.

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