Sheriff, FBI probe ghost payrolling by county officers

Sheriff Tom Dart’s office said the probe began as an internal investigation and officials sought help from the FBI.

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Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart speaks at news conference in 2021.

Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart’s office said Friday that officials “sought help” from the FBI after an internal investigation into ghost payrolling involving sheriff’s officers.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times file

The FBI is investigating allegations of ghost payrolling by officers of the Cook County Sheriff’s office, a probe that involves a suburban Chicago security company.

Sheriff’s officials requested help from federal investigators after launching an internal investigation last year, said Matt Walberg, spokesman for Sheriff Tom Dart.

“An investigation was opened into personnel-related matters last year by the Sheriff’s Office. The Sheriff’s Office sought the assistance of the FBI to assist in the investigation. The investigation is ongoing,” Walberg said Friday in a written statement. “The Sheriff’s Office takes allegations of employee misconduct very seriously and always devotes the necessary resources to such investigations. We cannot comment further at this time.”

Sheriff’s officials wouldn’t say how many officers are under investigation.

The investigation targets several higher-ranking employees with the department involved in possible “double-dipping,” a source with knowledge of the inquiry said.

Officials at Blue Star Security, a Des Plaines-based company, said the firm “has cooperated fully with the investigation to this point.”

“It has been made clear that we are not a target or a subject of this investigation. Our company verifies the good standing of all active employees hired from municipal police departments in the state of Illinois,” the company said in an email response to questions from the Chicago Sun-Times.

The probe was first reported by the Chicago Tribune.

Founded in 2009 by two Chicago police officers, Blue Star advertises on its website the firm “employs hundreds of active and retired law enforcement officers in the Chicago area.”

“Our team consists of state-certified law enforcement professionals who provide our clientele with the highest standards in security,” the website states.

A section of the website for prospective employees states active police officers must annually submit a form from the police department that employs them, authorizing them to do off-duty work for the company.

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