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Ex-gang member gets back six-figure Illinois prisons post

Xadrian McCraven

A former gang member with a long arrest record who has been fired twice from state jobs over lewd emails and “inconsistencies” in his job applications has been reinstated to a six-figure post with the Illinois state prison system.

Xadrian R. McCraven, 45, was returned to his $111,432-a-year job as a senior policy adviser with the Illinois Department of Corrections on Dec. 22. That was after an independent arbitrator ruled that outgoing Gov. Pat Quinn’s administration wrongly fired him early last year.

The department — which will be under the control of Republican Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner after he is sworn in Monday to succeed Quinn — is appealing the arbitrator’s ruling, agency spokesman Tom Shaer said.

Quinn administration officials, citing the pending appeal, declined to release the arbitrator’s decision or any other documents on McCraven’s case.

Corrections officials fired McCraven in January 2014 after reports in the Chicago Sun-Times that he had been arrested dozens of times and been fired in 2012 from a previous job with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services. McCraven admitted he was a member of the Young Latino Organization Disciples — a Humboldt Park street gang — between June 1987 and July 1989.

When it moved to fire him last year, the state prisons agency cited “inconsistencies in employment applications, which violated the Department of Corrections’ standards of conduct rule.”

McCraven fought his firing through arbitration as a member of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 31.

Anders Lindall, a spokesman for the union, would not discuss specifics of the arbitrator’s decision but said McCraven “works in a bargaining-unit job title, and, as such, we have a duty under the law to ensure due process is followed. The independent arbitrator found that the state’s actions were not justified and returned him to work.”

McCraven, who wouldn’t comment, was hired by DCFS despite having misdemeanor convictions for three crimes: disorderly conduct in 1987, illegal possession of a handgun in 1989, and reckless conduct in 1998, according to federal court records. Those records also show his rap sheet included at least 24 arrests — though a source told the Sun-Times last year that at least some of his criminal history had been expunged.

DCFS fired McCraven in March 2012 after the agency’s inspector general found he was “writing and responding to hundreds of lewd and inappropriate emails” while at work. He also was accused of falsifying a DCFS job application.

McCraven filed suit in federal court to get his job back, and a judge rejected his claims but left open the possibility he could amend his lawsuit.

Instead, McCraven withdrew the suit when the Quinn administration — citing the cost to taxpayers of legal battles over employment disputes — settled the case over his firing from DCFS.

McCraven got six months of back pay and a transfer from DCFS to the Department of Corrections, where he stated work in July 2013.

Days after McCraven’s Jan. 6, 2014, firing, three Republican state legislators announced two separate bills meant to block the state from hiring anyone with a criminal record like McCraven’s, but neither measure passed the Democrat-controlled General Assembly.

The corrections director who signed off on McCraven’s transfer from DCFS, Salvador A. “Tony” Godinez, retired effective Dec. 31.

“Situations like these are a compelling reason why there needs to be a comprehensive review of the state’s personnel laws and procedures and meaningful reforms proposed,” Rauner spokesman Mike Schrimpf said.