Rosemont and the Stephens family who have run the northwest suburb since its founding are again under scrutiny, with the FBI questioning current and former village employees, sources have told the Chicago Sun-Times.
They said they’ve been asked about a security contract handed to a clout-heavy Chicago company and also about allegations of corruption in Rosemont’s public safety department.
In 2015, Rosemont officials awarded a contract to Monterrey Security Consultants, Inc., to oversee security at public venues including Allstate Arena, the Rosemont Theatre and the village-owned Donald E. Stephens Convention Center. Records show Monterrey has been paid roughly $5 million for the work, which was awarded without Rosemont officials seeking competitive bids from other security firms.
Over the past year, FBI agents have asked current and former village employees about the contract, sources said.
“They’re following the money,” according to a source who has spoken to the FBI.
The FBI also has interviewed people about Rosemont’s public safety department, which reports to Mayor Bradley Stephens but is run by his nephew Donald E. Stephens III, according to sources, speaking on the condition they not be identified.
They said the FBI’s interest appeared to be wide-ranging and included questions about whether members of the department — made up of cross-trained police officers and firefighters — illegally used and distributed narcotic painkillers.
The sources described a raucous, at times violent culture within the public safety department, with off-duty fights, steroid use and excessive-force incidents that yielded no punishment.
“When they talked to me, they questioned everything: the pills, the steroids . . . the beatings, all that stuff,” a source said of the FBI.
The FBI and the U.S. attorney’s office would not comment. Donald Stephens III also wouldn’t comment.
Bradley Stephens said he was unaware of any federal investigation or of organized drug activity among Rosemont employees.
“Like anything, you’re going to have a few bad apples,” said Stephens, whose father, Rosemont’s founding mayor, Donald E. Stephens Sr., was dogged by allegations of organized-crime ties and repeatedly investigated by federal authorities before his 2007 death.
Overall, Bradley Stephens said, the public safety “department is stellar. If there’s an issue, if someone brings it to my attention, we’ll deal with it.”
Regarding the Monterrey deal, he said the company was hired after an underling told him the company was doing a good job working for the Bears.
Stephens said that, after interviewing company officials, “We started using them, and, to date, there hasn’t been an issue.”
The mayor said no competitive bidding was required but that he is now “considering” soliciting proposals from other security firms for that work.
The security work formerly was handled in-house, and was a significant source of income for many off-duty Rosemont cops.
But, if someone was hurt on the job, “We ended up taking the liability,” Stephens said. “We wanted to shift that.”
Under Rosemont’s deal with Monterrey, the company oversees the hiring and deployment of security crews at the entertainment venues and often hires off-duty officers from Rosemont and elsewhere.
Records show Monterrey hired a lobbyist to work at Chicago City Hall in 2015, John Kelly, who is a friend of James DeLeo, a former state senator from the Northwest Side who is now a lobbyist and is a longtime ally of the Stephens clan. DeLeo said he had nothing to do with the Monterrey deal and doesn’t do business with Kelly, who couldn’t be reached.
Monterrey was co-founded by Santiago Solis, whose brother, embattled ex-Chicago Ald. Danny Solis, secretly wore a wire for federal investigators to record conversations involving Ald. Edward Burke (14th) and Illinois House Speaker Michael J. Madigan, D-Chicago, as part of an ongoing investigation that has resulted in a corruption indictment against Burke.
The brother no longer is part of the business, run by former Chicago cop Juan Gaytan, who didn’t return calls.
Gaytan surfaced earlier this year in an affidavit filed in federal court in Chicago. The affidavit included an allegation that, at one point, Danny Solis agreed with Gaytan to “accept a gratuity from McHugh Construction” as a reward for “official acts” favoring McHugh’s efforts to win approval of “a 500-room hotel and data center project” near McCormick Place. Gaytan is friends with a McHugh executive.
Monterrey lost its security contract at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, where the Minnesota Vikings play, amid allegations of ghost-payrolling, overbilling and having unqualified workers.