7 charged in public corruption cases

Edmund Jones, 29, of Aurora; Mark Gruntzel, 43, of Chicago

January 24, 2011 2:35:42 PM PST
Seven government employees are accused of stealing from CPS, IDOT, and the Cook County Highway Department in an ongoing investigation, '' Operation Cookie Jar.''

Two Chicago Public Schools teachers are accused of stealing money. Mark Gruntzel, 43, of Chicago is charged with theft of government property, official misconduct and money laundering. Gruntzel allegedly stole from the Disney Magnate Elementary School, where he served as the PTA president, and used the funds himself. Edmund Jones, 29, of Aurora, is charged with theft of government property and official misconduct. He is a former teacher at Chicago's Marshall High School. He alleged took $9,000 from the school's book buyback program.

Jerome Latos, 54, of Tinley Park, and John Syarto, 33, of Oak Forest, are accused of illegally dumping six tons of street salt on the property of a private business. The co-owner of that Palos Hills business, Robert Jennings, 33, of Burbank, has also been charged with theft of government property.

Azalea Plump, 36, of Chicago, is accused of stealing $72,711 from the University of Chicago where she worked in the department of women and family nursing as an administrator, which included preparing payroll.

Jeffrey Flinchum, 25, of Brookfield, is charged with theft of government property and official misconduct. The former motor vehicle parts manager for the Cook County Highway Department is accused of using government funds to purchase parts for his personal vehicle.