Illinois state spy secret revealed involving government worker

March 11, 2014 (CHICAGO)

It was a spy tactic that on Tuesday, resulted in suspension for an employee of the secretary of state's office.

Right now, he is serving a 15-day unpaid hiatus after it was determined he falsified his work hours and used his state car for personal and political trips.

That is certainly not unusual in the annals of Illinois government. What is remarkable is how state investigators say they determined that this employee was cheating the taxpayers.

It must be causing shivers in Springfield, where some state workers have been known to come and go as they please; extend the traditional one hour lunch period and do some occasional political work for the boss.

State investigators have used one of the secret GPS tracking devices to spy on a state worker, after a tip that the man was shortchanging taxpayers and using his state car for non-governmental work.

According to a report from the Illinois Executive Ethics Commission, the employee, John Karnes, a 64-year-old driver services liaison with the Secretary of State's office, was alleged to have misused state time. A GPS tracking device was installed on Karnes' personally-assigned state owned vehicle, a 2011 Chevrolet Malibu, the report states.

Thru that tracking device, which sends a signal that can be monitored by a remote computer, authorities say they determined that Karnes was indeed going places and doing things that were not part of his job nor reflected on his state timecard.

The findings that resulted in his suspension: abuse of state working time; use of a state vehicle for personal purposes; conducting political activity on state time and misuse of state equipment.

Including a trip to the Illinois State Fair, where investigators say he did political work while on the taxpayers dime.

Karnes will have to sign out a pool car when visiting facilities, according to a spokesman, saying they have no tolerance for employees misrepresenting their work schedule or doing political work on state time.

The I-Team tried to reach the employee, who lives downstate in Chatham, Illinois, but the number had been disconnected.

For more information:
OEIG Final Report on John Karnes

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