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Friday, November 6, 2009 —An internal investigation by the Cook County Sheriff’s Department has led to the arrest of a Cook County Jail employee who was stealing money from inmates as they came into the jail, Sheriff Tom Dart announced Friday.

Tyrone McDowellTyrone McDowell Jr., 33, of Blue Island, is charged with 11 counts of official misconduct, 10 counts of forgery and one count of theft. McDowell, who has worked as a correctional officer since October 2005, was responsible for handling money turned in by inmates when they first come in.

McDowell worked in the trust department and not only handled money, but also processed property receipts for inmates. Each time an inmate comes into the jail, money is counted in front of the inmate and the inmate signs a statement agreeing to the correct amount. The inmate is then given a receipt, which matches against a receipt kept by the jail.

This summer, internal auditors noticed it appeared a jail receipt had been altered and alerted the sheriff’s internal affairs division, the Office of Professional Review. The next day, the inmate whose receipt had been altered bonded out and alerted jail officials that while his receipt showed he turned in $500 in cash before being processed into jail, he had only been given a check for $200. Investigators found the county’s copy of the man’s receipt had been altered to show he had only turned in $200. Records showed the receipt had been handled by McDowell.

As that investigation began, more complaints quickly came in about similar discrepancies and investigators noted all of the problems came from doctored receipts handled by McDowell. All of the thefts carried out by McDowell happened in just a few weeks.

“The victims and culprit in this case were easy to identify because of the safeguards we’ve put in place at the jail within the last year,” Dart said.
Investigators found 14 victims between July and August, with $1,760 in missing cash. McDowell, arrested Thursday night, is being held on $50,000 bond. His next court date is Nov. 24.

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