March 23, 2012 10:52 AM
It's All in the Family When it Comes to Squad Car Repairs in Stone Park
Auto body shop owned by family of Stone Park police chief repairs cop cars from west suburb—apparently without bid process.
By Robert Herguth/BGA and Dane Placko/FOX Chicago
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Stone Park Police Chief Giuseppe Capece doesn't want to talk publicly about Starcom, the auto body shop where he sends his department's squad cars for repairs.
His silence is surprising. You'd think he would want a free plug for the business.
After all, his family owns it.
That's right, whenever a Stone Park police car gets dented or scratched or needs other repairs, the chief sends it to Starcom in neighboring Melrose Park.
Illinois secretary of state records show Starcom used to be owned by the chief, and currently is owned by his wife. The chief remains a corporate officer, and one recent weekday was inside the business while his village-issued vehicle was parked outside.
Invoices obtained by the Better Government Association under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act show Starcom has billed the western suburb nearly $60,000 over the past four years alone.
And, apparently, Starcom is being used without any competitive bid.
Sounds like a serious conflict of interest, right?
Not to Stone Park's mayor, Ben Mazzulla.
"He saved the village a lot of money," Mazzulla said. "It would have cost us a lot more than what we were paying. And the board, every board memeber's aware of it. They all approved it. He helped the village, and he does a lot of stuff for no charge."
But part-time Stone Park Police Officer Kevin Shirazi, a friend of the mayor's, told FOX Chicago that he and other cops don't think the chief should be doing this, though many are afraid to speak out.
This is just the latest controversy in Stone Park, where demonstrators Thursday night protested the village's approval of a strip club next to a Roman Catholic convent.
This story was written and reported by Robert Herguth of the Better Government Association and Dane Placko of FOX Chicago News. To contact Herguth, call (312) 821-9030 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.