has an article HERE that outlines an issue with the recently hired fire chief in Country Club Hills.

THE … TOWN OF COUNTRY CLUB HILLS, has a moral problem on their hands this week.  Just three months ago they hired a new fire chief Roger Agpawa, previously the deputy chief of the Markham Fire Department.  Following the open application season, Agpawa was selected from the field of candidates bringing with him an impressive resume of fire service credentials.

Unfortunately, he also brought with him a criminal conviction that wasn’t part of his resume.

According to the Sun-Times:

Agpawa was hired as the Country Club Hills fire chief in July for $98,000 a year plus a city Ford Expedition, even though he pleaded guilty to mail fraud as part of a 1997 medical insurance fraud case in federal court in Chicago.

Agpawa, 54, was charged in December 1997 with cashing bogus medical insurance claim checks and splitting the money with his partner in crime who worked as a claims approver.

Agpawa pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud and could have served more than a year in prison.

Instead, he was ordered in 1999 to pay more than $60,000 back to the insurance company, serve three years of probation and perform 200 hours of community service.

Under Illinois law, a town cannot hire a firefighter with a serious felony conviction, but in an interesting twist, there is a difference between fire chiefs and rank-and-file firefighters.

Unlike firefighters, fire chiefs are appointed, not sworn, and not subject to the same state law.

But when it comes to fire chiefs, “all fire chiefs step out of the sworn area,” he said. “They are appointed.”

Usually, a mayor or a village manager — and not a fire commission — is the fire chief’s supervisor, Markowski said.

Mayors may use the same criteria as set out in the statute for sworn firefighters or “they can overlook it.”

One Country Club Hills alderman, Vincent Lockett, though, sang the praises of Agpawa.

“The guy has done a spectacular job for the city of Country Club Hills. He has saved the residents $400,000 in the short term,” Lockett said. “We haven’t had this type of management in many, many years in Country Club Hills. The fire chiefs used to allow the department to rape the city.”

“I don’t think one alderman would have anything negative to say about him,” Lockett said. “I guess I would have to say, let his past be his past . . .”I am proud to have him.”

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