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Suit: Payroll Corruption In Will County Jail Administration

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Steve Balich Editors Note:  At the present time I prefer to believe nothing was done wrong at the Will County Sheriff Department without proof. With That said the best way to prove they are innocent of any nefarious deeds, a Forensic Audit should be done, addressing the payroll, Comp time, sick time, and vacation time.  A Forensic Audit will show what is true or False, protecting those at the Sheriff’s Department from any false accusations.

Suit: Payroll Corruption In Will County Jail Administration

Another Joliet Patch exclusive that you won’t read about anywhere else.

By John Ferak, Patch Staff |  | 
At left, Sheriff Mike Kelley congratulates Nathan Musur on his 2017 sergeant's promotion. It did not last long.
At left, Sheriff Mike Kelley congratulates Nathan Musur on his 2017 sergeant’s promotion. It did not last long. (Image via Will County Sheriff’s Office )
JOLIET, IL – A new civil lawsuit accuses Will County Sheriff Mike Kelley’s command staff of violating the Illinois Whistleblower Act by retaliating against a sheriff’s sergeant who insisted that he had uncovered evidence that one of Kelley’s top administrative officials had been falsifying his own payroll records.Plaintiff Nathan Musur filed the new lawsuit this week against his current employer, the Will County Sheriff’s Office. His civil lawsuit was filed at the Will County Courthouse by a noted Chicago attorney, Thomas Needham. The lawsuit accuses Will County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy of Adult Detention David Adams of falsifying payroll records to make it appear as if Adams did not take any vacation, when in fact, Adams was taking vacation.”It’s kind of a sophisticated form of ghost payrolling,” Needham told Joliet Patch during a phone interview Tuesday. Needham said his client was promoted to sergeant in May 2017 and his client now has the distinction of being the only sergeant in recent history to be demoted at the Will County Sheriff’s Department.

“Nathan’s main goal is to have his name and his reputation (restored),” his lawyer said. “He feels like he’s being stigmatized for no good reason.”

(Story continues below this photo.)

Image via John Ferak/Patch

According to the lawsuit, Musur started working for Will County at the adult detention facility in 2011. Musur has a bachelor’s degree in law enforcement and justice administration from Western Illinois University. He worked as a correctional officer in the county jail between 2011 and 2017, according to the lawsuit.

In 2016, Musur took the promotional test for sergeant, which he passed, allowing him to move forward in the promotional process, according to the lawsuit. Musur was ultimately ranked sixth, the lawsuit states. In May 2017, Musur was promoted to sergeant.

The Will County Sheriff’s Office subsequently posted multiple photos celebrating Musur’s promotion on its social media account.

Then came last year.

Musur “discovered that one of his supervisors, Deputy Chief David Adams, was signing in for work when he was in fact not working,” the lawsuit states. “Musur reported the falsified attendance records to Dale Santerelli, the chief deputy of Adult Detention, in the Will County Sheriff’s Office and the immediate supervisor of Adams.

“Santerelli told Musur that he would investigate the matter.”

Last August, the lawsuit states, Musur was summoned to a meeting with Santerelli; Deputy Chief Adams was also there.

“At this meeting, Santerelli told Musur ‘things are not working out’ and therefore he was being demoted from sergeant back to the rank of deputy correctional officer,” the lawsuit notes.

The meeting lasted five minutes and Musur was not given any reason for his demotion, the lawsuit states.

“The demotion of Musur from sergeant was exceedingly rare; in fact, on information and belief, Musur was the first sergeant who had ever been demoted by the Will County Sheriff’s Office,” the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit adds, “Nothing about Musur’s performance at the rank of sergeant (sic) provided any reason for his demotion, and it had nothing at all to do with the quality of his work. Rather, he was demoted because he reported the unlawful behavior of Adams to Santerelli. Therefore the demotion was retaliation.”

The lawsuit also alleges that “Santerelli’s decision to demote Musur was motivated by a fear that Musur would discover that others besides Adams were engaged in the same unlawful behavior, including Deputy Chief Stuart Taylor and Santerelli himself.”

According to the lawsuit, “the Will County Sheriff’s Office records indicate that Santerelli, Adams and Taylor have supposedly not had any time off work since 2016.

“As a matter of fact, those records have been falsified. Santerelli, Adams and Taylor do take time off from work, just like everyone else. However, the time they take off, for vacation, personal days, or illnesses, is not officially recorded,” attorney Needham contends. “Therefore, Santerelli, Adams and Taylor continue to accrue ‘unused time’ in their personnel records as the months and years pass.”

The Will County Sheriff’s Office lawsuit adds that “Nathan Musur disclosed conduct that he reasonably believed violated the law and as a result, he was retaliated against by the Will County Sheriff’s Office when he was demoted for making this disclosure.”

The lawsuit explains that Adams, Taylor and Santerelli are given five weeks of vacation, five personal days and 12 sick days for each year. “Every December 1, the unused vacation and personal days that Santerelli, Adams and Taylor have accumulated convert to sick days … In addition, when a member of the Will County Sheriff’s Office retires, Will County pays them a lump sum for half of their accrued but unused sick days,” the lawsuit states.

The three command staff for Sheriff Kelley are also part of the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund and that “members are entitled to a year of extra credit for each year of unused sick time when they retire,” the lawsuit explains.

“Therefore, when they unlawfully accumulate sick time that they should not have, Santerelli, Adams and Taylor are padding their retirement pensions and enriching themselves at the taxpayers’ expense and to the detriment of other members of the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund,” the lawsuit states, adding that the August 2018 demotion for Nathan Musur resulted in having “his yearly salary … reduced by approximately $25,000.”

From left to right: Will County Warden Dale Santerelli, Sheriff Mike Kelley Correctional Officer Sgt. Nathan Musur, Adult Detention Center Deputy Chief Dave Adams and Adult Detention Center Deputy Chief Stu Taylor.