Aurea Picasso, the former Welfare Director of Hanover Township (Cook County, Illinois) pleaded guilty on August 3, 2011 to stealing more than $193,110 in funds for dental work, car insurance, cell phones and her daughter’s Sweet 16 birthday party. She was sentenced to six years in prison.
This wasn’t, however, Picasso’s first felony conviction. In 2003, when she was hired as the Welfare Director she was awaiting trial on 28 counts of theft, identity theft, official misconduct, computer fraud, state benefits fraud, and forgery – all related to her role as a welfare case manager for the State of Illinois. Shortly after starting her new role as Welfare Director for Hanover Township, she entered a plea deal in that case and was convicted of theft by deception greater than $10,000 but less than $100,000.
None of the news articles we found indicated whether Hanover Township was aware of the pending case against Picasso when they hired her in 2003. One Chicago Tribune story quoted the current township supervisor as saying, “It really baffles me, as the township supervisor and treasurer, that this would slip by.” You think?
It is hard to imagine that a local government would hire someone into what seems to be a career advancement if they knew she likely stole from the state in her previous position. Unfortunately, it is not hard to believe that they didn’t run a background check on her. This blog is full of those kinds of stories.