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FBI Gets Involved In Investigation Into Questionable Spending At Chicago Heights Public Library

CHICAGO HEIGHTS, Ill. (CBS) -- The FBI is getting involved in an investigation into claims of questionable spending at the Chicago Heights Public Library.

Chicago Heights Public Library Board President Jamie Paicely and attorney James Ciesil – who is representing the board – told CBS 2's Jermont Terry on Wednesday that the FBI Chicago Field Office recently contacted them requesting further documentation that was missing from a forensic audit into the questionable spending.

Paicely and Ciesil notified the public of the FBI request in a virtual meeting of the board on Tuesday night.

The FBI was asked by the Cook County State's Attorney's office to look into the claims. The current members of the Library Board, the new Chicago Heights Public Library Director, and attorney Ciesil are willing to meet with the FBI at any time. Currently, no meeting is scheduled.

The forensic audit stems from questionable spending allegations by fired library director Kelley Nichols-Brown, who is accused of mismanaging nearly half a million taxpayer dollars.

Nichols-Brown worked as the library director for Chicago Heights until the city fired her in June. She made $70,000 a year to help her oversee the city's library.

As director, Nichols-Brown had oversight of a more than $850,000 a year budget. The forensic audit questioned where and how half of that money - $400,000 – was spent.

The audit also reveals Nichols-Brown's credit card had countless purchases and how she switched janitorial services – paying more than $22,200 to her husband's company, Clay Custodial, to clean the empty building. All of this went down without board approval.

But the audit goes deeper, accusing Nichols-Brown of paying out $143,960 to "23 independent contractors," many of whom were "personal acquaintances" of the director.

One contractor's check was "mailed to Ms. Nichols-Brown's personal address" and the others "lived within close proximity," or on the same block, the audit said.

If you'd like to read the entire forensic audit, all 28 pages, you can do so at this link.

While Nichols-Brown worked as the library director, she also served as an elected parks commissioner – a position she still holds. Clay Custodial was also brought on to clean the Chicago Heights parks building, and billed double the amount.

Park records show Clay Custodial started getting paid in early 2020. Records acknowledge the golf buildings are closed and "are no longer hosting banquets" due to COVID-19 restrictions. Yet, records show Clay Custodial was still getting paid through 2020.

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