A former project coordinator for a Chatham senior citizen center was found guilty Wednesday of attempting to use city funds earmarked for the elderly to buy $544 worth of food for a “booze-cruise” bus trip for co-workers and friends.
Cook County Judge Clayton Crane said it was “clear” that Karen Huff forged signatures of her two supervisors so that it appeared as if her bosses approved her Dec. 8, 2007, food purchases from a South Side Jewel.
“People get comfortable in their jobs… and soon know what they can and can’t do,” Crane said before finding Huff, 53, guilty of forgery, official misconduct and attempted theft of government property charges.
The judge acquitted Huff on other counts of the same charges following the four-day bench trial.
Huff’s attorney argued Wednesday that as soon as she realized the city was billed for the finger food and sandwiches, Huff paid for the party platters.
“After working for more than 20 years for the city, she’s going to pull a scam? …Why would she jeopardize her career?” defense attorney John Muldoon said.
But assistant state’s attorney Ankur Srivastava told the judge that Huff knew what she was doing when she ordered the food using a using a “materials or service request” with the phony signatures of her supervisors at the Chatham Senior Satellite Center.
Jewel employees were told to send the bill to city.
“She paid [the $544] because she got caught,” Srivastava said.
Huff ordered 96 pieces of chicken and party trays filled with deli meats, cheeses, fruits and vegetables for those participating in the $35-a-head chartered bus trip.
She faces probation to up to five years in prison.
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