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Crime & Courts

Former COD radio station engineer sentenced to 8 years for stealing

Wheaton resident John Valenta charged following internal audit

John Valenta
John Valenta

A former College of DuPage radio engineer accused of stealing more than $200,000 from the school's radio station, WDCB, has been sentenced to eight years in prison.

John Valenta, 68, of the 1700 block of Lucky Debonair Court, Wheaton, appeared in court Sept. 29, where DuPage County Judge Liam Brennan handed down the sentence. On Feb. 28, Valenta pleaded guilty to theft over $100,000 as part of a plea agreement.

Prosecutors agreed to drop other charges against him and only ask for a maximum of 10 years in prison, DuPage County State's Attorney's Office spokesman Paul Darrah said previously. The plea agreement happened the same day his trial was set to start.

The sentencing was the result of a 13-month investigation conducted by the State’s Attorney’s Office and College of DuPage. In addition to his prison sentence, Valenta was ordered to make restitution in the amount of $399,000.

Valenta was charged in 2015 after an internal audit conducted at the station, where Valenta was a 30-plus-year employee, uncovered an "abnormally large number of costly invoices for radio station engineering services" from Broadcast Technologies, a company Valenta owned, according to a news release from the State's Attorney's Office.

An investigation revealed that from June 2006 to December 2013, Valenta submitted Broadcast Technologies invoices to the college for merchandise and labor for work purported to be done at WDCB, the release stated.

"The defendant (Valenta) said that probably 10 percent of the invoices that he billed the College of DuPage for were legitimate," information from the State's Attorney's Office stated. "The defendant said that he submitted some of the fictitious invoices to compensate for the hazard of having to climb the radio station's tower five or six times within the past year."

In addition, Valenta told prosecutors many of the invoices he submitted were inflated to cover personal and professional issues, and he used the money to cover expenses, pay credit card bills and pay medical bills. The investigation also indicated the labor and merchandise listed on the invoices, totaling $200,829.77, was never delivered to the station, according to the State's Attorney's Office.

“Mr. Valenta’s greed finally got the better of him,” DuPage County State's Attorney Robert Berlin said in the release. “He was no longer satisfied with a good paying job he held for nearly three decades and decided that he would simply steal from not only the College of DuPage but from DuPage County taxpayers to fatten his wallet."

Valenta will be required to serve half of his sentence before being eligible for parole.

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