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Ex-deputy clerk gets his $11,000 payout

Published: Thursday, June 12, 2014 10:38 p.m. CDT

GENEVA – A former deputy clerk at the Kane County Clerk's Office recently was paid his severance check for $11,298.42, county officials said.

Kane County Assistant State's Attorney Joseph Lulves, chief of the civil division, confirmed that the check, made out to Jeffrey Ward of Geneva, had been sent to Ward's attorney.

The severance represents 12 weeks of pay, according to a seven-page separation agreement with Kane County Clerk Jack Cunningham. Details of the agreement was obtained by the Kane County Chronicle through the Freedom of Information Act.

"Ward acknowledges and agrees that the monetary payment he is receiving pursuant to this agreement exceeds any amount of payment or debt that may be due or owing to him [by the] county clerk," the agreement states.

Ward worked for 17 months as a systems analyst at the clerk's office, starting part time Dec. 7, 2012, then full time starting June 9, 2013, according to payroll records obtained through the Freedom of Information Act. 

Ward was earning $47,990.90 a year, according to county records.

According to the separation agreement, Cunningham's office agrees not to contest it if Ward applies for unemployment insurance benefits and Ward will state the reason for his termination is the elimination of his position. 

Kane County Treasurer David Rickert was not available to confirm that Ward's check has been cashed. A treasurer's office employee said Rickert was the only one who could authorize releasing that information.

Kane County State's Attorney Joe McMahon had said because Cunningham's is a county-wide independently elected office, it has internal controls and can set the terms of agreements without oversight of the county board.

Ward was suspended without pay for five days in March for doing campaign work for Cunningham's primary election, by sending an email to the Illinois State Board of Elections on the county's server, using his county email account and during the normal work day, records show.

A review of Ward and Cunningham's county email accounts, released through the Freedom of Information Act, showed both Ward and Cunningham routinely used the county's computers and email addresses for Cunningham's re-election campaign.

Ward's use of the county email was referred to the county ethics adviser, who then referred it to the Kane County State's Attorney's Office. The state's attorney's office said it does not comment on possible or pending investigations.

Before his suspension, Ward was poised to be promoted to a new position in the clerk's office, that of chief deputy clerk, records show.

Cunningham said he had business cards printed up stating Ward's new position as part of an office reorganization, but he then changed his mind because of the cost.

Cunningham won the March 18 GOP primary, defeating county board member Mark Davoust, R-St. Charles. Unless a candidate mounts a write-in campaign, Cunningham will run unopposed for a fourth term. 

The deadline to file as a write-in candidate for the Nov. 4 general election is Sept. 4, according to the clerk's website, www.kanecountyelections.org.

Cunningham said he since has separated his office from his campaign.

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