Illinois State Police spent the majority of 2014 on an investigation into alleged wrongdoing by several high-ranking government officials in South Jacksonville.
State police specifically listed three allegations against former village clerk Linda Douglass on a 500-plus-page report released in late 2014. They are theft, theft over $500, and other theft, as well as official misconduct allegations against Police Chief Richard Evans.
Despite assertions from all but one member of the village board of trustees, as well as the police chief, that state police had enough evidence to arrest Douglass, the Illinois Attorney General declined to press charges after reviewing the report.
In addition to providing more details on the theft allegations, the report, obtained by WLDS-WEAI News through a Freedom of Information Act Request, lists various allegations that Douglass improperly shredded a mass amount of documents less than a month after losing the election for village clerk.
It also reveals an overall atmosphere of mistrust and dysfunction in the Village Hall office over the last five to ten years.
To start this story, we’ll introduce you to some of the key players up front, and identify others as we move along. All of these individuals were talked to by state police, with only one- Linda Douglass- refusing to do an interview.
Dani Glascock is the South Jacksonville Village Clerk. She won the position in April 2013, unseating 13-year clerk Linda Douglass with 60 percent of the vote.
Douglass was appointed village clerk in 2000 after the previous clerk resigned mid-term. She hadn’t had a challenger in the election until Glascock ran.
Douglass began as water/sewer clerk in 1998, a year after Gordon Jumper was first elected village president; he still holds that position. She was promoted to office manager and treasurer soon after losing the 2013 election.
Richard Evans has worked for the Village of South Jacksonville since 1974. He was appointed police chief in 1989 and also is the assistant fire chief.
Our story features interviews we’ve conducted with help from our reporting partners at WICS ABC Newschannel 20, as well as material provided by state police.
-THE INVESTIGATION BEGINS
The ball began rolling at the beginning of 2014 on a report that took almost the entire year to complete. It covers several major allegations: financial mismanagement of the South Jacksonville water-sewer system, illegal document destruction, and inappropriate conduct by the village police chief.
Dani Glascock and Kathy Culpepper, the village’s current water-sewer clerk, met with Illinois State Police investigators Deanna Harton and Eric Hall on Wednesday, January 22nd.
Glascock asked state police to conduct an investigation into what she believed was “illicit and unethical behavior” that possibly met criminal conduct.
Glascock told investigators she had talked to four different village board members who agreed there was corruption in Village Hall, but they didn’t know how to stop it. She said she ran for clerk after being talked into it by friends who also believed there was corruption.
Glascock also cited as motivation to run a conversation she says she had in 2012 with Police Chief Richard Evans, when he told her about that year’s audit. Glascock told us Evans referred to it as the “audit that had gone bad.”
After her election win, Glascock told police she had been “met with resistance” from Linda Douglass, still a full-time village employee, and Mayor Gordon Jumper. She said she was being denied access to records, a computer and workspace, and to Village Hall itself.
Here’s a heated exchange between Glascock and Douglass during a meeting two days after Glascock talked to state police. The meeting was initially called because Glascock protested being the only one to not be reimbursed for going to an Illinois Municipal League conference in Chicago:
“You’re making us look like we’re petty and that we don’t care about each other. I’m disappointed in you, Dani. I’m disappointed in you,” said Douglass.
“I’m really surprised of your lashing out tonight,” responded Glascock.
The new village clerk told investigators she didn’t think she was getting all of her mail. Glascock said Douglass was opening her mail, which state police says is mail tampering, a violation of federal statute. Glascock said she asked Linda to stop, but that she refused.
Jumper addressed the issue in a June 2013 email, which is provided in the report. In it, he told Glascock, “it’s been our policy to open mail as it is received,” and that for twelve years- the period of time Douglass was clerk- it wasn’t an issue because the clerk was at the office during regular office hours.
In the email, Jumper claimed the mail policy was part of an effort to facilitate timely deposit of receipts.
According to Glascock, during a Personnel and Finance Committee meeting in June 2013, the village board had to vote on an order to give the clerk a desk and to stop opening her mail.
Still, Jumper told us he’s “disappointed” that Glascock would infer that she’s been met with resistance since taking over as village clerk:
“No, I’m not interested in making her job more difficult,” he said.
Reporter: “You mentioned the fact that you’re a part-time mayor, but in the email we read from you to her, you kind of hammer that point home multiple times, but it almost seems like a derogatory thing- you’re just a part-time clerk.”
“I’m a part-time mayor, I think you best said that,” Jumper responded. “By the way, we did in fact after the opening of the new police station, segregate an area for the clerk and provided her a desk.”
Reporter: “That was something the village board had to vote on.”
Jumper: “No, I don’t believe that to be the case.”
Glascock told us she’s no longer having issues with mail that’s addressed to her being opened by others.
-WATER ISSUES: DELINQUENT/”GHOST ACCOUNTS”
In her time as clerk, Linda Douglass collected money for the water-sewer department, billed customers and made deposits, according to Kathy Simpson, who served as the office manager and treasurer up until April 2013, shortly after Douglass lost the election.
Simpson says auditors questioned Linda about bank deposits that didn’t reconcile or balance with computer records in 2012.
Two village officials, Simpson and Dick Samples, went to the village administration to complain about alleged theft activities, according to the state police report.
In the report, Samples, who served as a long-time trustee before being hired as the village’s code enforcement officer in 2012, and Simpson were said to have told Jumper they believed Linda Douglass was stealing money, and that Douglass was pocketing cash payments when running water/sewer accounts.
Simpson told us an audit in the late 2000s showed that not as much money was coming in from the water-sewer department as there should have been.
Simpson said in the ISP report she had “no idea” what was billed versus what was collected in the department because she says Linda refused to share the information with her.
Kathy Culpepper became the water-sewer clerk in 2013, taking over for Douglass; Culpepper had served as an administrative clerk since 2009.
She told police that when she became water-sewer clerk, many citizens owed the village hundreds if not thousands of dollars in unpaid water bills, but that Linda allegedly allowed citizens to continue receiving water without payment.
A disconnection and $100 fee is supposed to follow any failure to pay a bill after 45 days.
Brian Culpepper, a water-sewer employee, notes weekly water shut-offs increased by ten times as much when Kathy Culpepper took over the water clerk position.
It’s estimated there are about 1,500 residences in South Jacksonville, with a population of about 3,200. Culpepper told us most residents pay their water bills in cash, and that thousands of dollars in payments go through Village Hall monthly.
The state police report showed a snapshot of 127 water-sewer account disconnect notices that had supposedly been mailed from April 4th, 2011 to February 3rd, 2012. It showed a delinquent total of nearly $4,000 had ballooned to nearly $20,000.
The worst offender had an account total of over $3,300.
Dick Samples told us about another account that featured an even higher balance.
“I was there one day when the owner of a rental property came in there, and there was a $4,000 water bill against his property that his prior renters had run up. And it was written off,” says Samples.
“Now, why? Beats the hell out of me, but my own personal opinion is that it was written off because it would have made Linda look bad trying to come up with $4,000. But, there were other people in there that got their water shut off missing two payments and less than $100.”
Kathy Culpepper said Linda Douglass would create “ghost accounts,” ending in the numbers 01 instead of 00, and claimed they were created to bypass the incursion of additional late fee penalties.
Jumper referred to the 01 accounts as those that are no longer associated with a meter, where the village no longer has the ability to take collection action.
While he admitted there’s no ordinance covering the accounts, he told state police the village allows them, at the discretion of the water superintendent, so it can recoup the money.
Here’s audio of Jumper telling the Planning and Public Facilities Committee on February 25th of this year, admitting the plans exist and saying they always have:
“It usually comes about, someone had a high usage. What that allows us to ensure- one, is the customer continues to stay current so that if we need to shut them off, we can, and two, it allows us to recover a receivable that we would frankly maybe not otherwise be able to recover. There are operational benefits to doing what we do,” Jumper told the board last month.
One of the water-sewer accounts was shown to have a nearly $10,000 adjustment between March and November of 2008. Another account was shown to not have been paid in two years, but the water stayed on.
Douglass allegedly set up payment plans for a wide range of customers. One of the notable ones is South Jacksonville Fire Chief Dave Hickox, who was shown by the report to have a ghost account balance of nearly $1,200 at one point.
Hickox explained to state police he fell behind on water/sewer bills due to medical bills. He said he was unaware he was behind, but that Douglass put him and his wife on a payment plan.
“I was grateful at the time, so I could get it all taken care of. She basically said, ‘you’ll pay X amount of dollars every month on top of your existing water bill, or present water bill. And, it would be hid. That way, when they do the audit, it would not show up in an audit because it would be a separate account, and the only thing that would be seen would be, basically, the current bills,” explained Hickox.
“So, I thought, ok. I wasn’t real sure how that was all going to work. I was just grateful that they had come up with some kind of plan where I could take care of it and not have to worry about it.”
Hickox told police he “had no idea” how much money he actually owed, but that he simply paid Douglass each month. He said $800 was taken out of his pay in 2013 to cover the debt.
Village resident Sarah Wheeler was another “01 account” holder interviewed by state police. She believed Douglass stole cash payments.
Wheeler and her husband, a seasonal worker, missed their water bill payments by several months. Even though the bill averaged $30 to $40, Wheeler said she got a bill charging her over $1,000.
She told state police she went to Village Hall to complain and subsequently, Douglass started a ghost account and charged her an extra $10 monthly to pay off the debt.
The report doesn’t explain how her bill jumped up so exponentially. Wheeler claimed there were several instances where she made a payment, but the money was not accredited to her account. Wheeler claimed Douglass told her she had to pay the money again, or her account would be disconnected.
Stephanie Eykamp, a village resident, went to the South Jacksonville Police Department to complain on March 23rd, 2013, regarding her water bill.
In a memo from Officer Michael Broaddus to Chief Richard Evans, it was explained that Eykamp said she was put on a payment plan, but that the payments weren’t showing up correctly on her billing. She also asserted that adjustments were made in the “penalty percentage” for being delinquent.
Broaddus seemed to think it was significant in his memo to Evans that a complaint about a water bill was being lodged to law enforcement.
When asked why Douglass wasn’t arrested for theft after Eykamp’s complaint, Evans reportedly said he had read the report and didn’t believe it could be proven.
However, state police produced receipts to bolster their argument- a move they said surprised Evans- and he responded by saying he understood Eykamp couldn’t produce those receipts, which is why the case didn’t go anywhere.
State police pointed to at least one instance of Douglass leaving a post-it note indicating money was taken out of the petty cash drawer to fund a water-sewer drawer shortage; Jumper denied knowing that had happened.
Water Superintendent John Green told state police that Douglass created the payment plans because “it is a small town and she was trying to be nice and help people who were in a tough financial spot.”
However, there may be no names on the list of examined water accounts that are as glaring as Linda and Steven Douglass.
The state police report said the Douglasses owed $1,900 on an account as of March 17th, 2009. Police say on that day, they were put on a payment plan, and over $1,800 was subtracted from their account.
Fast forward to June 2010: the state police report showed the Douglasses had a ghost account with $1,200.
This was around the same time the Douglasses apparently ran into some financial trouble. Small claims court cases in Morgan County were filed against Linda and Steven twice in 2004 and twice in 2009, and they were ordered to pay nearly $6,300 to creditors as a result.
In addition, three foreclosure notices were filed in county court against their South Jacksonville property between 2008 and 2010; all three were eventually dismissed.
It’s alleged Linda Douglass received an interest-free loan from the village in the amount of $1,500 on December 18th, 2009. Simpson told investigators she gave Douglass the money from the payroll account. State police said that violated state law regarding municipal employee indebtedness.
Jumper referred to the alleged loan as a pay advance, which he claimed is common practice. However, Glascock reported to us the loan, or pay advance, has been paid back.
State police said the village failed to provide complete documentation for 30 “01” accounts requested.
The village’s auditors, John Eyth and Suzanne Steckel, reportedly told the village several years ago that its accounts receivables were too high- 25 percent, meaning one-quarter of the village households had citizens that owed the village money.
The management portion of South Jacksonville’s 2012-2013 audit, written by Gordon Jumper, recommended the village do a better job of collecting delinquent payments for water and sewer services.
John Green said Douglass at some point got “overwhelmed” and the accounts receivables billing got “out of hand.”
The auditors, who have been performing the service for almost 40 years, said they told state police they’d not heard of the “01 accounts” being used to hide money owed.
The auditors told investigators they’d look into the accounts. When we reached out to John Eyth, he declined to comment.
Jumper told state police John Green is ultimately responsible for the billing process, but Green told investigators he had never been trained on the water-sewer computer and would have no idea how to look up information on it. Green told the ISP the water clerk is the one responsible for billing accounts.
-WATER ISSUES: DEPOSITS
In 2012, then-office manager Kathy Simpson noted there had not been any $100 security deposits for water accounts made over a six-month period. Simpson, who says the deposits were supposed to be paid in cash, and water superintendent John Green reportedly approached the mayor about their concerns.
“I had no input into the payments of the security deposits. I didn’t know who was new to the village and who wasn’t. Maybe one person moved in a month, maybe ten did. So, when I didn’t get security deposits, I didn’t think anything of it. Some months, there weren’t. Some months, there were a few. At the time I took this information to Gordon, though, it was obvious after so long of a time that something wasn’t working the way it should,” Simpson says.
Current water clerk Kathy Culpepper said there were cash deposits that had been paid but not deposited- money that was being controlled by Linda Douglass.
Simpson noted auditor John Eyth’s comments during the 2012 audit that security deposits had not been reconciled for years. In the past, the auditors have advised the village to input the payment of the security deposits into the computer system, to no avail. Illinois State Police concluded it was “possible” that some cash was missing from security deposits.
Douglass is said to have alleged that Simpson didn’t provide her with deposit slips as the reason for the lack of deposits, but Simpson said in an email, “Linda is not naïve enough to just stack up checks and cash for month after month and think that was acceptable.”
According to Simpson, Gordon Jumper told her that she, as office manager and treasurer, was to blame for any inconsistencies, and it was her responsibility to figure the deposit problem out.
Simpson was reprimanded, and Jumper allegedly told her he’d consult with the village attorney to see if charges needed to be filed… against Simpson. Jumper declined to talk about this with us, saying it was a personnel issue.
Simpson said Douglass “was uncooperative and belligerent” when she asked for her help in honoring Jumper’s request to get to the bottom of the deposits.
Simpson claimed Douglass said things like “I’m sick and tired of this,” “you’d better be careful, I’m warning you,” and “you don’t know what goes on” in the water department.
As of September of 2012, Simpson alleges Douglass still couldn’t or wouldn’t provide her reports on who paid security deposits, indicating the information she had gotten up to that point was “faulty”.
Soon after, Simpson said she was taken off the task of the security deposit issues, and Linda, who had been in charge of handling the deposits, was assigned to take care of the issue. Jumper told us Douglass conducted an extensive review of the security deposits.
Then, Simpson said she was given numerous security deposits that had apparently been stored by Douglass in the village vault over a period of several months, with no further explanation.
She told state police she received $1,600 worth of deposits- most of which were checks, which she said was unusual. She added there were no receipts for the checks, and therefore there was no way to reconcile the deposits to ensure none were missing.
At the time of the finished ISP report, there was no detailed transaction history for security deposits, meaning the village was unable to trace back payments citizens have made.
However, a follow-up Freedom of Information Act request from our radio station yielded something interesting regarding this topic- on September 1st, 2012, we counted almost 450 security deposits entered into the water-sewer computer system.
Many of the deposit totals were less than $100, which would appear to indicate they’re from years past, because at the time and currently, the security deposit required to get water in the village is $100.
Again, that’s over 450 new accounts that supposedly signed up for water at once in a village with a population of 3,200.
Multiple officials have told us that Linda Douglass went to Kathy Culpepper- water clerk to administrative assistant- and asked her to enter the deposits into the computer, and that Culpepper was uncomfortable putting in false information, so Douglass allegedly wound up doing it herself.
Despite the appearance that Simpson was not given the cooperation of Douglass with the security deposits, Jumper told state police the office manager has the responsibility to make timely deposits of cash.
“We have restricted accounts for security deposits and we maintain a separate account for those, and it is the office manager’s responsibility to make sure those are timely deposited,” Jumper told state police.
“How can she make timely deposits if she’s not aware there are deposits to be made?” questioned ISP investigator Deanna Harton.
Simpson, who had become the office manager and treasurer in 2000, resigned less than a month after Douglass lost the April 2013 election, and subsequently Douglass was given Simpson’s position by Jumper. Multiple people state police interviewed, including John Greene, believe the timing was suspicious.
Simpson said to ISP officials she was given the option to resign, but would have been terminated if she hadn’t taken that choice. She believed the mayor wanted her gone so she wouldn’t speak to auditors about financial irregularities, and so Douglass could be appointed to her job.
When we asked Jumper about this, he wouldn’t comment on Simpson’s resignation, but he offered this:
“I have no information about a history of financial irregularities. Kathy Simpson as office manager was allowed unfettered access to the auditors during the 13 or 14 years she was office manager. The argument that she did not have access to the auditors, I frankly don’t think has any evidence in fact,” Jumper says.
Simpson said Jumper told her she was terminated for performance issues. Simpson told us she thinks she did a good job, and she says Jumper unfairly berated her for a lack of performance for not getting work done in a timely fashion.
But Simpson doesn’t believe Douglass has picked up the slack.
“Many of the reports and projects that I did she isn’t performing at this time. Which kind of begs the question, if I wasn’t doing enough, how is it that she is doing enough?” questioned Simpson.
Simpson doesn’t believe she was a scapegoat, but she believes the writing was on the wall when it appeared Linda might not win the election.
“People were saying that if Linda lost the election, Gordon would find some way to make up the lost revenue for her. Whether it be create a new position or let someone else go. When she did lose the election, it was the majority opinion that someone was going to go, or, a new position would be created. Because of his support of Linda Douglass, which had been unwavering,” she says.
Jumper doesn’t think one of his employees has been protected any less than another.
“We do annual evaluations of employees, and the evaluations that were done through the course of the year with these various employees have resulted in changes being made. I am sure that some employees are probably frustrated with the private evaluations that we make,” says Jumper.
As we mentioned, Dick Samples also resigned; his employment with the village ended last September, a month after being suspended for violating the village’s personnel policy manual.
Samples told us he put tape on a security camera that was focused on him as a protest against the fact that no camera was focused on Linda Douglass’ work space.
According to the ISP report, auditors told investigators, “when you are dealing with a multi-million-dollar budget, they do not necessarily worry about the loss of $20,000 to $30,000 because such a loss of money does not materially impact the financial statements of the village.”
When we asked Jumper if he believed it was possible Linda Douglass, as water-sewer clerk, stole money from the village, this was Jumper’s response:
“I have no evidence to support that. I mean, I understand those allegations have been made. There is no evidence that I have been provided that supports that,” Jumper told media. “I’ve heard the allegations in every case. I have asked very simply, show me the evidence, and we’ll take a look at it. And, I’ve not seen it.”
As far as other allegations of mishandled money go, several officials we talked to wanted us to go deeper into activity at the Concert in the Cornfield, which many village officials volunteer to help with. We decided to stick with what was in the state police report, which briefly mentions several things:
At the 2012 concert, the Douglasses, Linda and Steve, reportedly had a booth selling wine that came up short $674. Simpson says Jumper paid for the mistake with a personal check two months later.
Also, fire chief David Hickox said he was made aware that the Douglasses didn’t have to pay a 20-percent vendor fee in order to sell alcoholic beverages during the concert.
Multiple officials told state police that Linda Douglass and her sister-in-law went into Village Hall on April 24th, two weeks after Douglass lost the election, and shredded a massive amount of records. Mayor Gordon Jumper admitted to state police that Douglass paid her $60 for the work.
Here’s Glascock talking about the alleged destruction during a village board meeting two days after first speaking with state police last January:
“The records are not where they use to be and there are no managing of records for me. Stuff has been cleaned out of the vault and shredded,” said Glascock.
“You have access to every file in the vault. All of the village records are stored in the vault. That is what your records are,” responded Douglass.
“I don’t think all of them are probably in there,” shot back Glascock.
“That’s your own opinion. Had you asked what was shredded I would have told you,” Douglass said.
“I will tell you that we shredded,” Jumper chimed in.
Dick Samples said it was between 20 and 50 large trash bags worth, and he told state police he believed Douglass was attempting to hide evidence of her alleged criminal conduct when she was water clerk. Village trustee Kem Wilson also thinks evidence may have been shredded.
Kathy Simpson said three employees were there when it happened.
“She said that they were purging old records from the clerks files. It was my opinion that nothing should be purged with a new clerk coming in. If things needed purged, why hadn’t they been purged for 10 years before that? But, she was still the Village Clerk at that time,” says Simpson.
One of the employees present was Kathy Culpepper. She says the shredding took place in the back room of the Village Hall. Culpepper says she doesn’t know what was shredded, but she notes a lot of documents from the vault were packed up several days before the shredding took place.
The current water clerk identifies what documents were in the back room.
“There was cash receipts, vender files, bill registers and a lot of old stuff down there,” says Culpepper.
Jumper acknowledged the document destruction, but argued the documents destroyed were not original files.
“The documents that were shredded were exactly that in the clerks’ situation,” says Jumper.
“They were her copies for her files and her records. The originals were maintained in the village corporate files in the vault.”
WLDS-WEAI News has previously reported that South Jacksonville hadn’t submitted the necessary paperwork to legally destroy such documents since 2011.
When Jumper was told by state police that Water Superintendent John Green was missing original documents that had been requested by ISP, he admitted “official documents were missing” and that he was “disappointed to find that out.” As a result, he said the village is reviewing document security.
“One of the challenges we are faced with at this time is that we have a number of people who have access to these areas. You can’t really hold anyone accountable for them if you have five or six people that have access to the areas,” Jumper told state police.
“Actually I can, because the Village Clerk is the keeper of the records. Therefore if those records aren’t kept, the onus then gives to the Village Clerk. At that time Linda Douglass was the Village Clerk,” responded ISP investigator Deanna Harton.
Jumper then insinuated that Dani Glascock, as the new village clerk, was responsible for record management, but it should be noted that Glascock wasn’t sworn in until a week after the document destruction took place.
The state police investigation shows a handwritten note from Green that indicates there are missing records from 2009 to 2013: cash receipts, adjustments, and bill register documents.
Jumper told us the document destruction- which he says Linda Douglass went to him and asked permission to do- was a matter of space, noting up to that point, the village had enough storage area to maintain files.
While most claims of missing documents would seem to relate to the alleged illegal shredding incident, it would appear some documents were simply removed from the vault so that they could not be accessed.
Specifically, Glascock claimed the personnel records of Linda Douglass and Police Chief Richard Evans went missing from the vault, and that she should, as the records keeper, be able to access them.
Glascock alleged Douglass keeps the records in her office or locked them in a “secret room” in the Village Hall basement.
WLDS-WEAI News submitted a Freedom of Information Act request on February 20th and got a 450-page document in response at a cost of $65.55.
The village told us that besides documents related to pay or certifications, all other information on the files were exempt from disclosure because they constituted a clear “unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.”
It should be noted that Linda Douglass and Richard Evans serve as the Freedom of Information Act officers for the village.
We have begun the appeal process with the Attorney General’s office on the denied personnel records.
THE “BACKUP INCIDENT”
There are several details related to improper computer usage in Village Hall in the ISP investigation, including most notably what allegedly happened on June 12th, 2014, several days after Linda Douglass was interviewed by Illinois State Police.
It was reported South Jacksonville police officer Greg Lowe was stationed outside Village Hall that evening. Dick Samples says he went to the building and was told by the officer there was an “IT guy” backing up information on all the computers. Samples says that had never been done before.
Another village policeman, Josh Hallock, thought the technician’s presence was suspicious. He reported the incident to state police.
Hallock told investigators he saw a conversation take place between officer Lowe and police chief Richard Evans, as well as the technician, identified as “Kyle Allen with WTI,” when he went arrived at the police department to start his shift.
That evening, Officer Hallock told state police he saw Evans’ patrol car parked in front of Steve Douglass’ residence as he drove by later in his shift, and says Evans asked him why he was driving down that street.
As part of his patrol, Hallock went to Village Hall, where he says he saw the computer technician in the area where Samples and Glascock worked.
Officer Scott Fitzgerald reportedly replaced Lowe and was told to take an external hard drive into evidence after Allen was done. Fitzgerald told state police he felt “uneasy” because of his knowledge of the ongoing state police investigation.
Despite no mention of this being the case in the state police report, Jumper claimed the “backup” order stemmed from a request for information from state police.
As to the fact that the backup was done at 11:30 at night, Jumper said that was necessary.
“That’s exactly when we have that work done, because nobody is on the system,” Jumper told us.
“Backups require a substantial amount of time and in most cases when you are doing backups you are using the computers people operate on everyday. We regularly do backups at 11:30 at night. Otherwise we take people out of service, we can’t process water bills and can’t handle payments.”
We reached out to Kyle Allen, and he declined to speak to us, citing confidentiality rules.
It should be noted that state police indicated to Jumper that they were having difficulty opening computer files that were submitted to them by the village.
Also, former office manager Kathy Simpson says she was told Jumper immediately took her computer and put it in his office after she resigned. She was told by office workers that Linda Douglass and Gordon Jumper were in the mayor’s office for “hours on end” looking through the computer.
She believes they were deleting files and sanitizing the device.
Culpepper said she changed the password to the water-sewer computer because she believed Linda was logging on to it. Soon thereafter, Culpepper says Jumper told everyone in the office to provide Linda Douglass with their passwords.
Simpson indicated at some point in 2013, Jumper asked employees to give her their passwords for a “repository”. She says the only ones that didn’t give her passwords were Richard Evans and Linda Douglass. Jumper argued to state police that Simpson had all the passwords that were requested.
It should also be noted that according to Culpepper, Douglass still allegedly logs on to the water-sewer computer and makes adjustments.
-NO CHARGES/WHAT’S NEXT?
Of the people interviewed by state police who were asked if there was enough evidence to arrest Linda Douglass on various theft charges, everyone agreed that there was.
That includes police chief Richard Evans and five of the six trustees, with Steven Douglass, Linda’s husband, not being interviewed.
The Illinois Attorney General’s office determined that there was insufficient evidence to prosecute Douglass, but thanked ISP for a “thorough investigation” on December 23rd. Requests for an interview from the Attorney General’s office were declined.
Village trustee Kem Wilson thinks the reason officials think there’s not enough evidence is because many of the issues have to deal with cash, and there’s no paper trail.
But Jumper told media the lack of charges speaks volumes.
“Honestly I think if they aren’t pressing charges that is a pretty good indication that what we are doing here is not inappropriate,” says Jumper.
“So you don’t think the taxpayers of South Jacksonville have anything to be worried about?” asked Liz Foster.
“I think that we handle the funds of the Village of South Jacksonville in a manor that is appropriate and consistent with how we have done so in the past. We have adequate degrees of internal control to reasonably insure those funds get timely deposited and timely reported,” answered Jumper.
“We do have separation of duties between our water and sewer and general accounting departments to reasonably insure internal control. Those matters are reviewed each year as part of our financial audit. If there have been recommendations for change, we have generally adopted those recommendations to the extent they were feasible,” he added.
Auditors told state police that the village has failed to implement any internal controls to combat possible employee theft, and that when one person is in charge of collecting, recording and depositing money, there is a great potential for theft.
They told the village board there needs to be a segregation of duties.
Regarding all the allegations listed in this story, Glascock questioned Jumper in his capacity as village president.
“We have a mayor who is CPA profession and has his thumb on every business activity in the village, but yet continues to allow official misconduct, security deposits that don’t balance and petty cash that doesn’t balance,” says Glascock.
“If I am a CPA, those things better come down to the penny. My question is, why are these things not happening?”
Village trustee Mike Elliott thinks Jumper should have acted on some of the allegations, such as inconsistencies in water billing and payment plans, before state police had to get involved.
As we noted before, Linda Douglass was the only person state police reached out to who refused to be interviewed.
She declined to be interviewed when we reached out to her. Her attorney, Rich Crews, told our reporting partners at WICS he advised her not to comment because of a pending internal investigation by the South Jacksonville Police Department.
The state police report is the first serious investigation into the village’s finances. Back in June of 2013, Elliott suggested the village run a forensic audit, not long after it had been brought up by Glascock.
Elliott was quoted at the time as saying the suggestion by the village clerk got “a lot of the trustees” thinking. Two years later, he’s still pushing for it.
“I think it would be the most thorough way and fairest way to do it. It would also be the most beneficial to the taxpayers so that they would know exactly what is happening. This is their money,” says Elliot.
“If there isn’t anything wrong, I don’t think it is a waste of money. I think we would show everyone we have a clean slate. I don’t feel it is a cost factor for why they don’t want to do the forensic audit. I would think if you don’t have anything to hide, I would welcome it with open arms.”
However, Gordon Jumper warned in 2013 that it would be a costly venture, and he said cuts to purchases of “big ticket items” like fire trucks and police cars would be made if the audit happened during a staff meeting, according to Fire Chief David Hickox.
Jumper noted that it cost the village $20,000 in professional fees to cooperate with state police.
However, auditors told state police only 80 percent of the audit is correct because they weren’t provided all of the necessary information.
They also said there’s the potential for theft by writing off debt of friends and family if it’s up to one person, saying it would be advisable for the village board to vote on a policy for writing off debt. Currently, there is no internal mechanism for doing so.
Last month, Jumper said the village has about $12,000 in property liens. He said those could be written off, but are maintained so that the money can be recovered.
We reported that as much as one-quarter of the village’s water residents were delinquent. Jumper claimed in a meeting last month that the village has gotten that number down to one percent.
Culpepper told us the 45-day non-payment policy of shutting off the water is now being reinforced, and the practice of collecting security deposits has been shorn up.
Elliott and others also argued that Gordon Jumper seems to operate with free reign as village president. Here’s Elliott talking about the fact that the board as a whole was kept out of the loop on the financial issues:
“I would like to see a lot more transparency where the village board is involved and aware of the changes or problems happening,” says Elliot.
“That way we can have a little more input in what is going on, rather than it all be taken care of by the Village President. That seem to be the current norm now.”
Elliott also criticized Jumper for running the village as his own business. Here’s Jumper’s response:
“I’m very proud to say that I do that. I have maintained an open door policy with all my trustees. They are welcome to come and contact me. In fact, I regularly contact them,” says Jumper.
Last month the village had three committee meetings in one night, which took almost two hours, but that bucks the trend of how things have operated since Jumper took office, according to Elliott. He says in the last 18 years, the village has gone from six to three committees.
“Sometimes the committees only meet once a year. When I was first elected, we met every month or two months. The supervisors are advised that they don’t need to talk to board members,” says Elliot.
“I just don’t think that is the proper way to run a municipality. The City of Jacksonville doesn’t run like that. I know that all other communities around have very active committees and their elected officials do what they are suppose to do. If we aren’t going to do anything then why do we have so many trustees.”
There’s also an extensive report in the 500-plus-page Illinois State Police document about alleged misconduct of South Jacksonville’s police chief.
Richard Evans is also the assistant fire chief, ESDA director, and works for the local ambulance service. In addition to other officials accusing him of “double-dipping” as a result of those combined job duties, state police accused Evans of multiple incidents of official misconduct.
Evans admitted to investigators that he asked Officer Brian Wilson and Water Superintendent John Green to sign a petition for Linda Douglass in her re-election bid in 2013.
Wilson was on-duty at the time, and he told state police he didn’t want to sign the Douglass petition- he says he voted for Glascock- but he felt “cornered” into signing it.
Evans, along with Green, both admitted to state police they used petty cash funds to buy lunch for their staff. Both agreed with ISP investigators that it would look bad if citizens knew that was happening.
Jill Van Giesen, a former South Jax police department administrative assistant, told us the “petty cash free lunches” happened about once a week.
According to the state police report, Officer Rob Headen completed certification for the LEADS system, an information database for law enforcement, for other officers under the direction of Evans.
Headen told state police he wasn’t comfortable with doing that, and apparently told Evans so, but the chief reportedly told him to do it anyway. Evans reportedly stated he’d begin to have everyone complete the certification in the future.
Van Giesen told state police Evans would work his job at Daws Family Funeral Home and as a snow plow operator but still claim eight hours as police chief, and that he used his fire department radio to direct funeral traffic.
She also claimed that Evans, as a private investigator for a Springfield firm, ran names through the LEADS system for his private eye gig, which was confirmed by Officer Michael Broaddus.
Broaddus also claimed Evans directed him to trace Steve Douglass’ cell phone because Linda Douglass believed he was cheating on her. He told state police he lied to Evans and said he simply “wasn’t able” to perform the task.
Van Giesen notes the previous administrative assistant was fired for running her own personal business on eBay, but alleges that Linda Douglass and Richard Evans worked together to sell personal items, using the South Jacksonville Police Department storage room as a shipping facility.
“There was a table set up down there with bubble wrap, boxes and personal items. I know they were his because they started out in his office and went down there,” says Van Giesen.
“Record albums, golf clubs, action figures, rings and buttons. I also saw a hand-written note from Linda on a slip of paper that was some print out from eBay along with those things.”
Van Giesen also alleged that Evans used his village-paid cell phone to download multiple apps that were pornographic in nature. She says she discovered that after plugging his phone into her computer to sync contacts and scheduling information.
Van Giesen told us that discovery made her extremely uncomfortable.
“He is basically the representative and ambassador to the McGruff program for South Jacksonville, which is an awesome program for the kids in the area,” says Van Giesen.
“It is unfortunate that this is the kind of person who is our representative for McGruff. The type of person who is downloading these apps. It wasn’t one or two or three or four apps, it was many apps. That is the type of person who is McGruff for the community. I don’t think the community would want a person like that in that type of role.”
Van Giesen believes there’s enough evidence against Evans to warrant an official misconduct arrest.
“I would just like to see some justice brought,” says Van Giesen.
“There are many people who have lost their jobs with the village and were forced to resign. They were good hardworking and ethical people. Because of the things going on with the village and Linda Douglass, Gordon Jumper and Richard Evans these people have been forced out. I feel it is an unfortunate situation.”
Evans was asked by state police about various other personal favors he allegedly asked on-duty officers and village employees to do; ISP listed four reported incidents they said were official misconduct. He admitted to some, but said he was unclear on others.
Fire Chief David Hickox told state police he believes Evans takes unfair advantage of his position as police chief, pointing out that he drove his patrol car to Springfield for a concert and to the Sangamon County Fair.
“He can get away with a lot more stuff than most of us can,” Hickox told us.
Reporter: “Why is that?”
“I don’t know if it is because he has been here so long. He does a lot of great things. I’m not going to downgrade him, because he has done great things for the village. There are a lot of things he has done, as the taxpayer and not as the fire chief, I don’t agree with.”
When we first contacted Richard Evans to see if he’d go on the record with us, he indicated he wanted to talk but also referenced the pending investigation we mentioned before as preventing him from doing so. Evans wouldn’t say who the investigation is against, but that it had been going on for quite some time.
When we followed up a day later by letting Evans know there were specific allegations in the ISP report against him, he responded that he thought “the mayor took care of it” and then declined to return several more phone calls.
WLDS-WEAI News and WICS ABC Newschannel 20 went to the police station last Friday at around 12:40 and were told the chief would be back from lunch at around 1:00.
But then when we said we were media looking to talk to Evans, an officer at the station apparently called Evans, came back and said he wouldn’t be back for “several hours.”
We asked Gordon Jumper about the investigation that Douglass’ attorney and Evans referred to, and he declined to comment.
Part 1 of this story as aired on “What’s On Your Mind?”
Original “What’s On Your Mind” program in 2013 featuring South Jacksonville village clerk candidates Linda Douglass and Dani Glascock.