47 Illinois human services workers fired, disciplined over pandemic fraud



(The Center Square) – Gov. J.B. Pritzker is talking publicly about an ongoing probe into Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) fraud by Illinois state workers.

According to the Illinois Office of the Executive Inspector General, the employees facing discipline sought loans for small businesses outside of their state work. But those businesses may not have existed, or if they did, may not have earned the income they claimed.

“Anybody that has committed PPP fraud in our administration or not in our administration does not deserve to have a job working for the people of the state of Illinois,” Pritzker said at an unrelated news conference Monday.

In total, the Illinois Department of Human Services reports that, as of early August, 47 of its workers had been fired, resigned or face pending discipline related to PPP loan fraud. Pritzker says at one facility, the word got around.

“When you find out there are 37 people that have done this, they obviously have been talking to one another at work,” Pritzker said. “Maybe someone committed this kind of fraud then tried to convince somebody else that they can show them how to do this.”

That facility with 37 disciplinary actions is the Ludeman Developmental Center in Park Forest, which included 32 mental health technicians, three supervisors, one program coordinator and a nurse.

Pritzker said firing a large number of people will present another set of problems.

“Obviously it causes a challenge whenever you’re letting anybody go and you have a number of open positions anywhere,” Pritzker said.

The Cook County Inspector General said 25 county workers were found to have ripped off the federal PPP program during an investigation over the past year.

PPP fraud has been a problem nationwide. The inspector general for the Small Business Administration estimated that the agency paid out more than $200 billion in “potentially fraudulent” aid during the pandemic.



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