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Workers At Clerk's Office, Morgue Charged With Corruption

CHICAGO (STMW) -- A Cook County Circuit Court employee has been charged with stealing $3,500 in traffic ticket payments, the fourth clerk's office employee to face criminal charges this year, prosecutors announced Tuesday.

Gregory Gill, 46, of Chicago, was one of five public employees charged Tuesday in the ongoing "Operation Cookie Jar," which for more than two years has placed corrupt government employees behind bars, according to a release from the Cook County State's Attorneys office.

Gill, a former employee of the clerk's office in Bridgeview, is accused of stealing $3,500 in cash from people who paid traffic tickets at the southwest suburban courthouse, according to prosecutors.

Investigators became suspicious when people trying to renew their driver's licenses were informed that they owed unpaid parking tickets, which they claimed they had already paid, prosecutors said.

Gill was charged with felony theft and official misconduct, and was ordered held on a $10,000 bond. He is scheduled to appear Oct. 24 in court.

Others charged Tuesday included Joel Neason, a former autopsy technician for the Cook County Medical Examiner's office, who was charged with workers compensation fraud, the release said. Neason, 58, of Chicago, allegedly filed a false claim that he had injured his back while helping a funeral director lift a body.

Neason threatened to "get his gun and shoot everybody" when he was told he was under investigation, prosecutors said. He was charged and convicted of misdemeanor disorderly conduct for that incident. His bond for the fraud charge is $5,000 and he is due back in court on Wednesday.

Teron Carey, 36, of Chicago, a former ticket clerk for Metra, prosecutors said. He is accused stealing $2,500 in cash from a safe was accidentally left open overnight while he was working.

Carey was charged with felony theft and official misconduct, and ordered held on $10,000. His next court date is Oct. 24.

Lucious Jefferson, a former Cook County Forest Preserve District employee, was charged with theft of government property, the release said. The 52-year-old Orland Park resident stole $4,000 worth of scrap metal from the forest preserve and used a county-owned truck to haul it to a junkyard, prosecutors allege. His bond was set at $10,000 and his next court date is Oct. 26.

Kenneth Lazarro, a former highway maintainer for IDOT, was charged with criminal damage to government supported property, criminal damage to property, disorderly conduct and two counts of official misconduct, the release said.

Lazarro, 49, of Chicago, allegedly struck several parked cars while plowing snow in his state vehicle, prosecutors said. He tried to cover up the damage by filing a false police report saying he was the victim of a hit-and-run driver. Bond was set at $10,000 and his next court date is Oct. 24.

In all, charges have been filed against 34 individuals, with 17 pleading guilty in the "Cookie Jar" investigations. The convictions have led to more than $3 million in restitution of taxpayer funds, the release said.

(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2012. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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