Investigators: Willow Springs IL Police Department Squandered & Wasted Drug-Forfeiture Money - True News USA reported almost a year ago that the FBI was investigating Willow Springs Police.....
(CBS) – One million dollars. That is the amount Willow Springs had to give back to the federal government as punishment for how it spent money seized from criminals.
CBS 2 Investigator Dave Savini exposes allegations about boats, motorcycles and questionable spending.
A 2013 Firehawk 26-foot boat with a water cannon and a Ford F-250 towing it are just two of the purchases made with drug money seized by former Willow Springs Police Sgt. Mike Giorgetti.
Giorgetti spent a decade working undercover for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, on loan from Willow Springs.
In exchange, a portion of the cash and assets he helped confiscate went back to the village in what is called an “Equitable Sharing” program. Giorgetti says the amount as in the millions.
Some of that money helped pay for the $300,000 boat, which was “not being used properly,” Giorgetti says.
A federal audit found it was not being used as it was supposed to be — to patrol the waterways, which has a chemical plant in the area. The audit questioned the purchase because it was barely used.
Sources say the boat was allegedly used for a pleasure cruise taken from Willow Springs to the Chicago lakefront for a day of fun at the Taste of Chicago. Willow Springs officials deny this.
This year, a U.S. Department of Justice audit of the funds also raised questions about the boat and how Willow Springs handled $828,762 in Equitable Sharing money. It called more than $116,000 spent on 13 barely used vehicles “unnecessary and wasteful.”
This included two Harley Davidson motorcycles that cost $44,126. The Harleys were upgraded with new wheels, chrome and heated handgrips for another $23,562.
Another spending issue cited was excessive travel costs, including paying for hotel rooms to attend training that was only 14 miles away from Willow Springs.
Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart’s office was tipped off to the boat being used for entertainment.
“There is no excuse for those type of things to ever occur,” Dart says. “There’s none. There’s absolutely none.”
The boat is now with the Chicago Fire Department.
A DOJ official says Willow Springs is now officially kicked out of the Equitable Sharing program.
“We found a lot of very concerning things when we looked into this,” Dart says.
Willow Springs officials declined an interview but pointed to Giorgetti and other officers as central figures in what went wrong. Giorgetti was fired in 2014 over allegations that included claims he lied under oath.
Giorgetti disputes all allegations.
Below are the complete and unedited statements from Willow Springs and the Justice Department.