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Forest Preserve Cop Charged With Taking $20,000 in Bogus Overtime

Thursday, October 30, 2003
Chicago Sun-Times
by Annie Sweeney ,Abdon M. Pallasch

A Cook County Forest Preserve police officer was charged Wednesday with taking $20,000 in overtime pay he was not entitled to.

Joe Weisinger Jr., an 11-year veteran of the force, is the second person to be arrested in an investigation of forest preserve officers allegedly scamming overtime pay without working overtime.

Weisinger, 39, was taken into custody at the Area 6 Forest Preserve District in Thornton during a shift change, a source said.

He was asked to turn over his badge, his identification and his shirt, the source said.

Weisinger was charged with theft and official misconduct and faces up to seven years in prison for allegedly taking the money over a two-year period, said John Gorman, a spokesman for the Cook County state's attorney's office.

Weisinger is also believed to have given part of the money back to a payroll clerk who has already been charged for her role in the scam.

Rochelle Porter, 34, a payroll clerk active in Cook County Board President John Stroger's ward organization, was charged at the beginning of October with doctoring overtime records so forest preserve police officers could get extra money and give her kickbacks.

As many as 10 officers have been questioned or are being looked at for allegedly conspiring with Porter to get paid overtime for hours they did not work. The investigation into the payroll padding at the controversial police agency has spanned a year.

Prosecutors said Porter was responsible for data entry and that the scheme took place from June 2000 until August 2002. Investigators began eyeing the department in August 2002 after forest preserve officials reported bookkeeping irregularities to the county's inspector general.

Weisinger is paid $44,000 a year and lives in one of the Forest Preserve district homes, for which occupants pay a small rent, county records show.

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