* The Sun-Times has a disturbing report about the new DCFS head…
Gov. Pat Quinn’s new director of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services pleaded guilty to stealing from clients of a West Side social service agency and later became embroiled in a child-support battle over a daughter he said he never knew he’d fathered, records show.
We’ll leave the second half of that sentence alone and focus on the criminality allegations, which appear serious…
Before his career in state government, Bishop was a substance-abuse counselor at the Bobby E. Wright center. According to his Sept. 17, 1993, arrest report, he received $9,262 from clients and failed to turn over that money to the center between May 5, 1992, and July 23, 1993.
Bishop created a “bogus” program for convicted drunken drivers, said Lucy Lang-Chappell, former executive director of the center, who was his boss. He was improperly taking money from patients and providing them with forms they wrongly believed would allow them to get their driver’s licenses back, though the center wasn’t licensed by the state to provide that service at the time, Chappell said in an interview.
She said the scheme was exposed when a patient came to the center in July 1993 with a currency exchange check the patient wrote to the center for his participation in the DUI program. The man said Bishop visited his home that day and insisted he replace the check with one written directly to Bishop, according to Chappell.
Chappell said she confronted Bishop with what the patient told her — and fired him on the spot.
The center was forced to reimburse “a stream of patients” for checks and cash they’d given Bishop, Chappell said. An insurance policy eventually covered the center’s losses, she said. […]
Bishop has maintained that, despite his guilty plea, he was innocent of the theft allegations. At a 1994 court hearing, his lawyer said Bishop turned over the money he collected to Chappell, who says that’s “totally false.” Chappell, now retired, wasn’t accused of any wrongdoing, and other current and former Bobby Wright employees backed up her recollection of events in interviews with Sun-Times and WBEZ reporters. [Emphasis added.]
Not good at all.
* The Tribune editorial board sums up the context well…
DCFS Director Erwin McEwen abruptly resigned in 2011. The agency’s inspector general and the state executive inspector general later reported that a politically connected contractor linked to McEwen had received millions of dollars from DCFS and other state agencies for work that couldn’t be substantiated. State ethics inspectors later said the contracting scheme cost taxpayers at least $18 million. McEwen refused to cooperate with inspectors.
In 2005, Bamani Obadele resigned as DCFS deputy director after an investigation by the agency’s inspector general found he had profited from state contracts. Obadele pleaded guilty in 2010 to a federal fraud charge. He admitted he had prodded DCFS vendors and contractors to purchase products from a company he owned and subcontract work to another company linked to him.
In 2011, Quinn made a smart move, tapping the enormously respected child welfare veteran Richard Calica to succeed McEwen. Calica questioned DCFS from top to bottom, with one priority: improving the lives of abused and neglected kids. Calica died last year, and chief of staff Denise Gonzales took over as acting director. It’s not clear why Quinn didn’t make her permanent. What is clear is that Quinn’s administration made a quick decision on Bishop rather than do what it should have: Conduct a search for the best child welfare expert in the country.
Senators, don’t rubber-stamp this nomination. Press the governor to find the best of the best.