Illinois workers' comp under scrutiny

March 31, 2011 4:13:43 PM PDT
If pictures don't lie, then some top Illinois state prison officials are in trouble. They were photographed fishing and doing strenuous home repairs -- even though they were on paid injury leave.

In this Intelligence Report: Hundreds of department of corrections employees are now under scrutiny.

There are multiple investigations under way into allegations of fraudulent workers' compensation payments to hundreds of employees at the Illinois Department of Corrections.

Federal prosecutors in central and southern Illinois have issued subpoenas for employee records, and the state insurance department has also subpoenaed official prison employee files.

Now, the investigation has spread from prison workers to the state agencies that handle workers' comp awards.

The investigation began at Menard Correctional Center, a maximum security men's prison in downstate Chester. State and federal authorities have subpoenaed all workers' compensation records from Menard for the past five years.

More than have of the entire staff at Menard has received millions of dollars in awards for work-related injuries, according to one downstate newspaper report, many for hand injuries from repeatedly closing jail cell doors. The current Menard prison warden, Dave Rednour, is among them.

Prior to becoming the top official at Menard, Rednour was on total temporary disability and recovering from surgery on his arm after what he described as repetitive on-the-job trauma. He was awarded $75,678 in a tax-free settlement.

Rednour's injury claim was questioned after a photograph was taken during his six-week disability leave. The picture was taken on a bass fishing trip with then-state treasurer and Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate Alexi Gianoulias.

It isn't just Menard.

Du Quoin prison lieutenant Calvin Landis claimed to have suffered an on-the-job back injury and was on totally disability for five years, receiving $1,134 from the state each week, tax free. During that time he was suffering from a disabling back injury, a department of corrections employee took a photo of Landis up on a ladder, power washing his house, scrubbing aluminum gutters by hand, and moving furniture on his porch.

Landis retired late last year and is now being paid a $60,000 state disability pension. He is quoted as saying that, despite his disability, his doctor says it is ok to do some occasional work.

Several arbitrators with the Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission are also under investigation. They determine which state employees receive settlements and how much.