Ex-gang member reinstated to state prison job gets $99,000 in back pay

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Xadrian R. McCraven

A former gang member with a lengthy arrest history has been awarded nearly $99,000 in back pay after an arbitrator reversed his firing and returned him to a six-figure job with the Illinois state prison system, records show.

Xadrian R. McCraven, a senior adviser with the Illinois Department of Corrections, was fired by then-Gov. Pat Quinn’s administration in early 2014 after a series of Chicago Sun-Times stories that detailed McCraven’s rocky state employment history, including his 2012 firing from the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.

Records show DCFS had fired McCraven for“writing and responding to hundreds of lewd and inappropriate emails” while at work.But under a 2013 settlement, Quinn’s administration reduced McCraven’s dismissal to a 10-day suspension and transferred him to the corrections department, which fired him on Jan. 6, 2014 — this time citing unspecified “inconsistencies” on state job applications McCraven had filed.

Now, new details about the case are emerging in arbitration documents the Sun-Times obtained this week from Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act.

Those documents reveal that state officials described McCraven’s conduct as “dishonest” and “deceitful.” But arbitrator David A. Dilts ultimately disagreed, ruling the state’s allegations were “without merit.”

Dilts ordered McCraven reinstated to his $111,432-a-year job. McCraven, 46, went back to work in Cook County in mid-December “performing duties related to parole and re-entry services,” a corrections spokeswoman said. He has since been awarded $44,896 in back pay and is due another $54,028.

Quinn administration officials alleged McCraven lied on two state job applications about his firing from DCFS and falsely represented that he “had never been convicted of any criminal offense other than a minor traffic violation.”

McCraven, who wouldn’t comment, had been arrested at least 24 times and convicted of three misdemeanor crimes, according to federal court records. He had also admitted he was a member of the Young Latino Organization Disciples, a Humboldt Park street gang, between June 1987 and July 1989.

But Dilts ruled that McCraven ultimately didn’t lie to state officials because his “criminal history was expunged” before he submitted the job applications in question. Similarly, McCraven didn’t lie about his termination from DCFS because he’d been fighting that firing through his union — the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 31 — and ended up with only a suspension.

The union blamed the Sun-Times’ stories for McCraven’s most recent firing, according to Dilts’ Nov. 17 ruling.

“The union alleges it was this media attention (and its political consequences) that gave rise to a command decision in the Illinois state government that the grievant should be discharged,” Dilts wrote. But state officials “argued that these allegations in the media reports brought unfavorable attention on the agency and were therefore aggravating circumstances.”

McCraven, according to other documents in the case, is no longer a union member under a little-known state law that Quinn signed in 2013. That law moved about 1,900 government administrators — including McCraven and 129 other corrections employees — out of union job titles and into management posts that don’t have union protections.

McCraven tried to persuade the arbitrator to let him stay in the union but failed, the records show. “The grievant’s position, from which he was discharged, has been removed from the bargaining unit by the state, and that issue . . . is not subject to review in this forum,” Dilts wrote.

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