Orland Park Man Among Five Accused in County Corruption Probe

A former Cook County Forest Preserve employee from Orland Park is accused of stealing country property, using a county vehicle to move it and pocketing the money after selling it off, in the latest string of government employee corruption arrests.

An Orland Park man is facing a criminal charge after being accused of stealing and selling Cook County property while working for the county, according to a release from Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez’s office.

Lucious Jefferson, 52, is charged with theft of government property, and his bail was set at $10,000. Jefferson, a former Cook County Forest Preserve employee, is accused of stealing $4,000 worth of scrap metal belonging to the forest preserve, and using a county vehicle to move and then sell the metal, according to the release.

Jefferson is among four other men accused of crimes including theft, covering up damage and filing a false workman’s compensation claim, as part of the Operation “Cookie Jar” investigation, which targets crimes by government employees.

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  • Joel Neason, 58, of Chicago, was charged with workers compensation fraud. Neason is accused of filing a false claim that he injured his back while helping a funeral director lift a body, according to the release. Neason, a former Cook County Medical Examiner autopsy technician, was convicted of misdemeanor disorderly conduct after he threatened to “get his gun and shoot everybody” when first told about the investigation into his claim, according to the state’s attorney’s office. Bail was set at $5,000 for the workers compensation case, and his most recent court date was Wednesday.
  • Gregory Gill, 46, of Chicago, was charged with felony theft and official misconduct. Gill, who worked in the Bridgeview Courthouse’s clerk’s office, was accused of stealing $3,500 in cash from people who thought they were making payments on traffic tickets, according to the release. Investigators first took notice when people went to renew their driver’s licenses and some still had unpaid tickets on record. Gill’s bail was set at $10,000 and he’s due back in court on Oct. 24.
  • Teron Carey, 36, of Chicago, was charged with felony theft and official misconduct. Carey, who used to work for Metra as a ticket clerk, is accused of stealing $2,500 in cash from a safe that was left open. Carey’s bail was set at $10,000 and he is due back in court on Oct. 24.
  • Kenneth Lazzaro, 49, of Chicago, was charged with criminal damage to government-supported property, criminal damage to property, disorderly conduct and two counts of official misconduct. While working as a highway maintainer for the Illinois Department of Transportation within the county, Lazzaro is accused of hitting several parked cars while plowing snow, and then falsely claiming his vehicle was struck in a hit and run accident by another driver, according to the release. Lazzaro’s bail was set at $10,000 and he is due back in court on Oct. 24.

The “Cookie Jar” investigation has been in action for two years, and has led to charges against 34 people, with 17 of them pleading guilty, according to Alvarez’s office. Restitution payments of about $3 million have been part of sentences handed down, as well as prison time up to six years for some convicts.

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