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SHERIFF ANNOUNCES FORMATION OF FINANCIAL CRIMES /
PUBLIC CORRUPTION UNIT

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Thursday, April 9, 2009 — Bond was set today at $50,000 for a former Hazel Crest village employee who stole more than $100,000 from village funds, according to the office of Thomas J. Dart, Sheriff of Cook County.

   Teneisha Coleman, 30, of Sauk Village, was arrested Wednesday following a joint investigation by the Cook County Sheriff’s Police and the Hazel Crest Police departments.  Coleman was charged with one count of Theft over $100,000 and one count of Official Misconduct.  

   The case is the first to be handled by the Sheriff's Police Department's new Financial Crimes/Public Corruption Unit.

  Coleman, who resigned from the village in April 2008, is accused of cashing municipal checks, without authorization or permission.  An initial investigation conducted by the Hazel Crest Police Department revealed that nine, non-consecutive checks, totaling more than $100,000 were missing.   

  “After initial review, our agency requested the assistance of the Cook County Sheriff’s Police due to their expertise in financial investigations and to have an impartial party look into the matter,” said Hazel Crest Police Chief Tom Folliard.  “I would like to thank them for their assistance and we look forward to working with them in the future.”

  Further investigation by the Sheriff’s Police revealed Coleman on bank surveillance video cashing the checks at Bank Financial FSB located at 3700 West 183rd Street in Hazel Crest and receiving cash at the teller window.  The checks were cashed for various amounts between August, 2007 and April, 2008 and made out to the “Village of Hazel Crest.”

  Dart said the request for assistance by Hazel Crest officials coincided with his effort to create a task force dedicated to investigating financial crimes. The unit will investigate complaints about public corruption, as well as crimes committed against senior citizens and other vulnerable Cook County residents. The unit will also investigate allegations about mortgage fraud - one of the promises Dart made in the wake of a foreclosure crisis last year.

  “Financial crimes are becoming more prevalent in today’s society,” said Sheriff Dart.  “The Financial Crimes / Public Corruption Unit will be dedicated to working with local government agencies, community groups and others to weed out dishonest employees and also to protecting some of our more trusting members of society – seniors.”

  To report any financial crimes please contact the Financial Crimes/Public Corruption Unit at 708-865-4518.

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