Illinois has long been known for its history of political shenanigans, but a recent story is still likely to turn heads.
The Illinois prison director’s chief of staff reportedly approved the hiring of a former gang member to a high-paying job last year—just one day after the agency’s own background screening determined he was not eligible, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.
Xadrian McCraven’s hiring was approved on June 28, 2013, by Bryan Gleckler, chief of staff for Illinois Department of Corrections Director Salvador Godinez, the report says. A day earlier, the department’s chief of operations, Joseph Yurkovich, checked a box on a review form deeming McCraven “not eligible” for the job, the report says.
The 44-year-old McCraven was fired earlier this month from the $111,432-a-year position after the Chicago Sun-Times revealed his employment history and lengthy criminal past, the report says.
But now the issue has spiraled beyond McCraven, prompting Republican lawmakers to ask Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn if politics played a role in his hiring, the report says. Quinn’s aides, however, have denied favoritism, saying they acted quickly to remove him in the aftermath of the Sun-Times’ revelations, the report says.
McCraven, who declined to comment, reportedly made $1,700 in campaign contributions to elected officials, including disgraced former Gov. Rod Blagojevich. In 2003, he was among thousands of politically connected people listed in a then-secret database of candidates for jobs, transfers or promotions in Blagojevich’s administration, the report says.
The Sun-Times reports that the state-prison system reviewed other issues about McCraven, including his admitted affiliation with a gang, the Young Latino Organization Disciples, in the late 1980s, and a criminal history and orders of protection against him.
The review form on which Gleckler checked “eligible” noted McCraven had had criminal records expunged, the report says. The Sun-Times reports that McCraven was arrested “at least” 24 times and convicted of misdemeanors three times as a young man, according to federal court records.
Prior to the corrections job, he worked for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services but was fired in 2012 for allegedly “writing and responding to hundreds of lewd and inappropriate emails” while at work, the report says.
Yurkovich, the IDOC operations chief, told the Sun-Times that McCraven was ineligible to work for corrections because McCraven’s nephew was reportedly on parole for aggravated battery at the time that he was being vetted for the job. But McCraven was eventually hired as senior adviser to the chief of parole, the report says.
Rep. Dennis Reboletti (R-Elmhurst) told the Sun-Times that he was drafting legislation to prevent former gang members from working for corrections and a handful of other state agencies.
Read more at the Chicago Sun-Times.