Broadview public works mechanic suspended, apparently private work investigated

An ABC7 I-Team Investigation
BROADVIEW, Ill. (WLS) -- A taxpayer-funded suburban village's Public Works garage is at the center of an investigation into off-the-books car repairs.

The I-Team uncovered videos of this apparently private works department that have officials saying public works is being used for private business.

An early morning off-the-books-auto repair, the mechanic claiming he's in for the long haul hauling in some cash.

"Two thousand dollars-worth of work is the only thing keeping me up right now. Dealer wanted to quote this guy $10,000," he says in the video, then laughs.

This discount work is part of a series of videos obtained by the I-Team appearing to show private vehicles undergoing major repairs in the Broadview Public Works garage, with full access to village vehicles.

More than a dozen repair videos, car after car, discussing oil changes for repeat customers.

Customer: Oh, I should have done that today.
Mechanic: I just, we changed the oil last time you were here.

Broadview Village Trustee Judy Brown-Marino said village trustees have signed off on a large number of invoices for auto parts that just listed part numbers. Now she's questioning if taxpayer money is being used for private repairs.

"The cumulative-when you look at the overall package you realize that something isn't right here," Brown-Marino said.

Some over their face as they see the livestreaming camera go by, while the mechanic promises to keep everything hush-hush.

"Gotta keep the customers anonymous, you know?" he says on one video.

"A lot of us suspected that there were things going on in Public Works and we were curious and suspicious about some of the bills. We asked questions, we never got answers," Brown-Marino said.

The Chevy Camaro seen in the shop is registered to Broadview's Deputy Village Clerk at the time. And the same car was out front of Public Works when the I-Team showed up looking for answers. She hit the gas.

The mechanic behind all these apparently off-the-books repairs is Davanta Crews, the Broadview Public Works employee the I-Team first discovered a few weeks ago who was falsely claiming to be a suburban police officer and posting high speed videos on suburban streets. His boss is Public Works Director Matt Ames.

Ames said he had no clue about the afterhours work the I-Team showed him on video.

"We gotta find out exactly what's going on because this is the first I'm hearing of it. As a matter of fact, I'm kind of surprise that you guys are down here," Ames said.

Ames is a convicted felon. A company he owns, MFA Construction, received village contracts to run the Public Works Department for years according to village officials and records. Ames is now on the village payroll as director.

"I appreciate you guys coming out here and, if nothing else, making us aware of some possible improprieties that may be going on afterhours," he told the I-Team.

We the I-Team asked how he didn't notice this off-the-books work, he terminated the interview.

"Public Works is a very secure location, our Public Works Director put up this fencing and gates and security cameras. It's the Public Works Director who let this happen," Brown-Marino said.

Public Works mechanic Devanta Crews has been suspected. The Cook County Inspector General and Broadview's Village Attorney are investigating whether a private auto repair business was run out of Broadview Public Works, and Broadview's attorney is also reviewing the conduct of Public Works Director Matt Ames after learning what the I-Team uncovered.
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