Alleged whistleblower in Oglesby case talks

October 5, 2010 (CHICAGO)

Oglesby, a former aide to Cook County Board President Todd Stroger, appeared in court on Tuesday where a judge set bond at $250,000. She was arrested Monday and charged with financial crimes and official misconduct. Prosecutors say she rigged no-bid contracts with the county and used taxpayer money for her personal expenses.

Just after Cook County Board President Todd Stroger lost his re-election bid in the primary last winter, he hired Oglesby, a former campaign worker to serve as a deputy chief of staff for his last nine months in office.

ABC7 is told that Oglesby was not well-liked by the staff already there. Some of those staffers suspected Oglesby of wrongdoing.

"I was just as angered as any county employee would be by something like that," said Chris Geovanis.

Geovanis says she was one of the whistleblowers. An 18-year veteran county employee, Geovanis has been subpoenaed by the grand jury presumably in the state's attorney's case against Oglesby, a deputy chief of staff for President Todd Stroger. Geovanis told ABC7 she complained last April that Oglesby's public relations firm had taken credit for work Geovanis had done on county time.

"I did not talk directly to the president about this. I did raise it in senior levels in the administration and subsequently received a phone call from one investigating agency," said Geovanis.

Oglesby was charged in circuit court Tuesday with theft, money-laundering and official misconduct related to no-bid contracts at least two of which went to companies owned or partly-owned by Oglesby.

"I cannot stress enough that today's charges should send a strong signal that there will be extremely serious penalties for anyone who steals public money," said Cook

"We will be working with the state's attorney's office. There will be a press conference later and our office will be cooperating with them," said Stroger.

On his way to the scheduled county board meeting, President Stroger says his office reported Oglesby to the county inspector general last spring. He offered no further comment Tuesday afternoon but did act on his former aide's employment status.

"The president asked for and received her resignation today...she's gone," said Marcel Bright, Stroger spokesman.

Oglesby, a former Stroger campaign manager, was hired after the president lost his re-election bid. She drew attention to herself when the office approved several no-bid contract for just under $25,000.

"I think that the investigation is obviously a lot larger than Ms. Oglesby and I think we'll start to hear more in the next couple of days," said Bridget Gainer.

President Stroger did not hold his promised press conference. He communicated with ABC7 Tuesday using two written statements, the second of which announced Oglesby's resignation.

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