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County fires $127K-a-year official

Saturday, March 03, 2007
Chicago Sun-Times
by Steve Patterson

Amid allegations of improprieties, a high-ranking Cook County government employee was fired Thursday and escorted from his office.
John Hibbett was the county's $127,000-a-year director of risk management since 2001, put there by former board President John Stroger.
But a spokesman for board President Todd Stroger cited "specific allegations of improper actions by Mr. Hibbett" that led to his firing.
Hibbett, 53, did not return calls to his Evanston home. His staff handles workers compensation issues and insurance claims and contracts.
Those with knowledge of Hibbett's hiring say he was referred by Lacy Thomas, ex-head of the county-run Stroger Hospital.
Thomas recently resigned as chief of the county hospital in Las Vegas amid accusations of kickbacks and cushy contracts given to friends here. Thomas has denied the charges.
Among the contracts under criminal investigation in Las Vegas is one held by Chicago-based Risk Management Solutions of America.
Public records show the same company holds contracts in Hibbett's department as a minority vendor and Hibbett recommended it for a $1 million contract in August, although the deal never went forward.
Among other things, Cook County officials are investigating the extent of Hibbett's relationship with that company.
Risk Management Solutions of America's president, Bennie Jones, did not return calls Friday. Jones has a separate company, Advent Medical Management, that Hibbett has also recommended for contracts.


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