NEW LENOX, Ill. — WGN Investigates has learned that a former worker at a Will County high school is under criminal investigation for allegedly skimming money from ticket sales at sporting events hosted by the school.
The employee apparently under suspicion resigned from their position back in June.
Sources say a criminal investigation is underway into whether the former athletic department employee at Lincoln-Way Central High School skimmed money from football game ticket sales over multiple years. The exact figure is unclear at this time, but may have totaled thousands of dollars — or perhaps far more.
The person has not been charged yet, so WGN is withholding the employee's name.
A parent with children in the district, Elizabeth Burghard is also part of a watchdog group representing parents fed up with what she describes as financial games played in the district.
“School code and law needs to be re-written in order to represent the taxpayers, and most importantly, the children it should be focusing on,” Burghard said.
It’s just the latest allegation of financial chicanery in Lincoln-Way Community School District 210. Accused of misusing millions of dollars in bond money and district funds for his own benefit, former superintendent Lawrence Wyllie is awaiting a federal fraud trial.
The source tells WGN that an independent audit led to suspicions about an athletic department employee, and those suspicions are now being criminally investigated by the Will County Sheriff’s Office.
In a written statement to WGN News, a sheriff’s department spokesperson says:
“Sheriff’s detectives were called to the Lincoln Way Central High School District 210 administration office on 8/6/2019. Detectives spoke with administrators regarding alleged financial transgressions discovered on the books of the Lincoln Way Athletic Boosters. Allegations were made regarding the Athletic Directors secretary, who has since resigned her position at the school. This is an open and on-going investigation and no charges have been filed in this case as of today.”
“If that’s proven to be true I would not be surprised, because there are not stopgaps put in place,” Burghard said of the accusations.
Burghard says the sports ticket skimming allegation is particularly egregious because the scheme allegedly swindled boosters who support student-athletes, and the students themselves.
“You need to be worried about people who, when people aren’t looking, are going to put their hands in the money bag and take – and in this case, take from children,” Burghard said.
Jen Hannon at Lincoln-Way School District 210 released a statement that said:
While developing the annual budget, Lincoln-Way administration uncovered financial discrepancies in the Lincoln-Way Central Athletic Department. The administration notified the independent inspector general who conducted an investigation. Lincoln-Way administration also investigated the discrepancies, resulting in the resignation of one Lincoln-Way employee. All information was turned over to the Will County Sheriff’s Department, and no further comment can be made at this time, as this is an ongoing investigation.
The district confirmed an investigation is underway, but declined to detail the nature of it or say who is involved. Officials said the superintendent will likely comment on it later in the week.