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Cook County Hiring Scandal Worsens

By Kevin Robinson in News on Jun 16, 2009 2:00PM

Obligatory Cook County file photo of Donna Dunnings
Tony Cole, the former steakhouse busboy that county board president Todd Stroger hired to a $60,000 a year county job in spite of his felony convictions for check fraud, is back in the news. According to an investigation conducted by the Sun-Times, Cole continued to get paid by the county for time his spent in jail (the Cook County jail, no less!) between Nov. 19 and Nov. 21. Cole was incarcerated for violating the terms of an order of protection against an ex-girlfriend.

A review of county personnel records during that time shows that Donna Dunnings (Stroger's cousin and the county's former "first African-American female CFO") signed off on three "excused" absences with pay during that time, and signed time cards saying that Cole worked 14 hours the weekend of November 14 (he didn't, according to County security and personnel records). Dunnings also granted Cole comp time on January 23, the day she bailed him out of jail with a personal credit card and signed his time card saying he worked four hours on January 25, (he didn't work that day, either).

Dunnings told the Sun-Times that a "time keeper" in the office tracked the hours and she only signed off on time cards. A source told the Sun-Times that Cole was the time keeper. Stroger spokesman Eugene Mullins said that "The county does not have a policy to pay money to employees for pay they have not earned." Dunnings was fired earlier this year by Stroger, who told the media that Cole was making "explosive" and "not flattering" allegations against Dunnings, and that those allegations could impede her ability to do her job. Cole also told the paper that an agent from the Chicago FBI Field Office met with him in jail to ask about Stroger and Dunnings and any information he might have about corruption in that office.