Outgoing police chief has accusatory tone in report

By Gary Scott on April 4, 2015 at 7:30am

Documents South Jax Police Chief Richard Evans were recovered that had been reported missing during an internal investigation.

South Jacksonville’s outgoing police chief is raising questions about the work done by the Illinois State Police in their investigation into alleged wrongdoing at Village Hall.

Evans included his synopsis of events that led up to state police being called to look into allegations of theft against former Village Clerk Linda Douglass and official misconduct against him, as well as how his department responded, as part of his retirement statement given to trustees on Thursday.

Evans criticizes water clerk Kathy Culpepper, village clerk Dani Glascock, former code enforcement officer Dick Samples, and ISP investigator Deanna Harton in the document, which was given to the media after Thursday’s board of trustees meeting.

In his statement, Evans quoted himself as saying, “I can’t hardly believe that amount of documents are gone” when talking about missing water and sewer records that were requested by state police.

The ISP investigation indicates there are missing cash receipts, adjustments, and bill register documents from 2009 to 2013.

Evans describes a two-day inventory search by village police in great detail, including how two full rooms of file drawers, boxes, storage boxes, and individual file folders were detailed. He says hundreds of pages of documents were found that had been reported missing or destroyed.

Evans notes some documents that were missing were located “in out of the way obscure places as if they were purposely put there by someone.”

You’ll recall Kathy Culpepper, the current water clerk, told us she saw cash receipts, vender files, and bill registers were packed up from the village vault several days before Linda Douglass reportedly went to Village Hall with her sister-in-law and shredded, by one estimation, “between 20 and 50 large trash bags worth” of material.

Evans points out some of the missing files were apparently located in Culpepper’s lower desk drawer and others on a shelf under the counter in front of her desk and in a file cabinet behind her desk.

Evans charges that village employees interviewed by state police weren’t as helpful as they could have been with finding the documents.

He doesn’t make it clear what documents were recovered except for identifying a security deposits report that was found that dated back to 1971.

Evans points out that code enforcement officer Dick Samples and water clerk Kathy Culpepper had deleted about 119 files, including part of the billing program for the water/sewer bills, off Culpepper’s water-sewer computer in June 2014.

Samples explained to us in a previous interview that he deleted “temporary files” off Culpepper’s internet browse, a task he says took over 40 minutes because of the sheer volume. He says he inadvertently deleted something important, but that the problem was corrected soon thereafter.

“I inadvertently took off one that allowed the system called LOCUS, which is what they use in the water department, what that program did is allowed LOCUS to go in through Kathy’s computer and work and fix and set whatever needed to be done,” explains Samples. “And I didn’t know what it was, being truthful. But, it had been there a long time, so I wiped it out.”

Evans says this deletion was what led to Village President Gordon Jumper asking for the late-night “backup” of computers shortly after Linda Douglass had been attempted to be interviewed by state police last June.

Remember, Jumper said the backup order stemmed from a request for information from state police.

Evans said it was suspicious that Samples had a motion alarm set on his computer that would email him if someone was in his work area.

He says state police told the village police department to “do their job and do their own investigation” when he expressed the concern of there being “further improprieties” in Village Hall. In June 2014, he says he opened up a parallel investigation into official misconduct.

Evans says “two completed investigations” were forwarded to the state Appellate Prosecutor’s Office to see if prosecution was warranted, as well as two incomplete ones.

Samples is apparently included in one of the four complaints as Evans criticized Samples for putting duct tape on security cameras. Samples told us he was suspended by the village board for the duct tape and file deletion incidents. He says the duct tape incident was a protest of the fact that no cameras were trained on Linda Douglass’ workspace.

A request for more information from the Appellate Prosecutor was not immediately returned Friday.

Apparently, a factor in two investigations not being completed was that Officer Greg Lowe, Evans’ internal investigator, was alleged in the official state police report to have “committed inappropriate conduct which would bring a conflict of interest.”

Lowe reportedly was stationed outside Village Hall when a computer technician was doing a late-night “backup” service for computers at Village Hall.

Evans says there have been “at least two other allegations with substantial evidence of official misconduct”, and that the investigation is still open.

Possibly to solidify his argument against Dick Samples, Evans further criticized him in his statement for having been brought before the Department of Professional Regulations for a disciplinary hearing in 1999 and apparently fined in his capacity as an appraiser.

Evans’ report indicates he also goes after several other officials. He says Illinois State Police investigator Deanna Harton was “not interested” in the files given to state police in the aforementioned inventory search conducted by village police.

Evans says he has “had nothing but high praise for” the Illinois State Police’s work but says he’s “troubled” over the work of Harton, whose voice can be heard several times in our original two-part report we aired on “What’s On Your Mind?”

Evans points out that Harton “was not concerned at all” that Samples and Culpepper had deleted computer files.

Evans also says numerous people have made statements and allegations but had no proof, something he said “REALLY TROUBLES” [sic] him, and that just recently, he’s learned that police officers who were interviewed were misquoted in the state police report.

Evans believes the investigation “was not conducted by…Harton to the highest standards that” he normally sees with Illinois State Police investigations.

Harton could not be reached for comment on Friday.

Evans also accuses current village clerk Dani Glascock of having said, “I’ll get you for this” in response to Evans telling her he had circulated a nominating petition for Linda Douglass’ village clerk re-election campaign.

Evans says he and Glascock had been friends, but that she said they were “no longer” friends after he told her about the petition.

When reached for comment, Glascock admitted it was “pretty strong conversation” but says she’s being misquoted.

“I know 100 percent that I never said that,” she says.

Glascock added this about the circulation petition:

“His response to me was that Steve Douglass did indeed ask him to circulate a petition but that Steve- and this was his quote- ‘strong-armed him’ into circulating, and that Steve was the chair of the fire and police department- he didn’t feel like he could tell him no,” claims Glascock.

“When I decided to run, Richard and I had a conversation- and actually, it was in front of several people- where he told me that he couldn’t sign anybody’s petition or he would lose his job.”

It’s alleged Evans asked an on-duty police officer to sign a petition for Linda Douglass’ nomination for village clerk. Evans does not address that in his report and retirement statement.

One other note: on Thursday, we talked to Village President Gordon Jumper after the board meeting ended. Jumper said over a half-dozen times during our interview with him last month that he had not seen the state police report, which has since been available for viewing on our website.

Reporter: “Have you read the state police report at this point?”

Jumper: “Yes.”

Reporter: “And do you have any additional comments about what you have seen in the state police report?”

Jumper: “No.”

Reporter: “Nothing about any of the allegations against Richard Evans or Linda Douglass?”

Jumper: “It was reviewed in executive session. I’m going to respect the confidentiality of executive session.”