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You Paid For It: Taxpayers On The Hook For Ex-City Worker's Legal Fees

CHICAGO (CBS) --  A former city worker accused of wrongdoing just hired an attorney to fight those charges.

But CBS 2 just discovered a second case. The legal bills for that one? You paid for it.

Chris Tye has the details.

November of 2018 was a busy month for then-Deputy Aviation Commissioner in Chicago, William Helm.

He was sued by two O'Hare International Airport truck drivers who said through "extreme acts of bullying and retaliation" they were "deprived of substantial overtime" by Helm for refusing to do "political favors" on city time.

"It's been an emotional roller coaster out at the airport under Bill Helm," said O'Hare truck driver Hector Hernandez.

At the same time, federal prosecutors said Helm was bribing former Illinois State Senator Martin Sandoval, who, as head of the Senate Transportation Committee, green-lit an IDOT project for an East Dundee company that Helm was a consultant for.

Feds said the bribe totaled "$5,000 or more."

The Sandoval bribe case could land Helm in prison for 10 years. He'll be left to pay those legal fees. But the O'Hare lawsuit? Sixteen months after its filing, it's still an open case.

City of Chicago taxpayers are on the hook to pay those legal fees. His legal counsel is a city attorney earning $93,000 a year.

Why are taxpayers footing the bill?

Since Helm worked for the city, a state law protects him. Because the allegation falls within the scope of his employment, it is up to the city to "appear and defend against the claim or action."

Helm denies the O'Hare allegations and no longer works for the city. As for the bribery case, Sandoval, who reportedly received that bribe, is cooperating with the feds as part of a plea agreement.

Around the same time his offices were raided last year, so too were the offices of Jeff Tobolski. He's the mayor of the Village of McCook. Tobolski is also a Cook County Commissioner. He is stepping down from both of those positions.

No reason was given.

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