Posts Tagged Tri-State FPD Trustee Michael Orrico

Tri-State Fire Protection District in the news

Excerpts from the

A case involving a Tri-State Fire Protection District official charged with submitting a fraudulent report in 2015 may soon reveal the truth behind possibly dubious circumstances lurking within the Burr Ridge-based district.

Originally at issue was the questionable aptness of Michael Orrico’s dual relationship with the fire district as both a trustee and as an equipment vendor.

Reporting in the Edgar County Watchdogs’ (ECW) Illinois Leaks publication, principal writer Kirk Allen said last month that Orrico, who sells gear for Fire Service Inc., failed to mention his employment in a key disclosure statement for his trustee position. Fire Service Inc. is based in various locations, including Naperville.

According to Illinois state law, anyone filing a statement of economic interests who deliberately puts on record a false or incomplete statement is guilty of a Class A misdemeanor, so when the 18th Judicial Circuit Court of DuPage County in Wheaton finally issued an arrest warrant for Orrico Sept. 16 this year, ECW expressed approval.

Named as a defendant in the case, Orrico was required to make a 10 percent bond deposit and appear in court for a bail bond hearing Oct. 11. Terms of the warrant forbade him from leaving the state of Illinois without the court’s permission, limiting Orrico’s whereabouts to an eight-county range.

In part, the charges read, “on or about March 16, 2015 … Michael J. Orrico committed the offense of Filing a False Statement of Economic Interest, in that the … trustee of the Tri-State Fire Protection District, willfully … failed to list on that statement … his employment with Fire Service Inc. and his title or the description of any position held with Fire Service, Inc., from which the defendant earned income.”

As it happened, Orrico, one of three elected Tri-State Fire Protection District trustees, had disagreed with his colleagues in the past about records handling. As his case unfolded, details about missing records came to light, and further fanning the flames were apparently obscure circumstances by which records were lost to begin with.

In December 2013, Tri-State reported that confidential tape recordings were missing from a safe in its Burr Ridge facility. The audio documentation regarded executive sessions of the district’s board of trustees.

“Whatever has been going on during executive session remains a mystery,” the Chicago-based Better Government Association (BGA) said in 2013. The investigative nonprofit previously had published a series of articles on the district’s Darien branch, keeping its eyes peeled on spending records and alleged conflicts of interest and other irregularities.

“According to the Illinois Open Meetings Act, trustees are allowed to convene in private to discuss sensitive material such as litigation or personnel matters, provided certain rules are followed,” the BGA said. “Among the rules, they must keep a verbatim record – either video or audio – of all sessions closed to the public.”

Tri-State allegedly had stored its closed-session records at the shared residence of trustee Jill Strenzel and Fire Chief Michelle Gibson, longtime partners. According to BGA, Orrico asked to hear the recordings, but of seven meetings arranged specifically for that purpose, four or more were canceled.

In a bizarre twist, Strenzel fell outside the station on Nov. 18, 2013, breaking two tape recorders in the process and sending a staffer to buy a new one. She then claimed that someone broke into a safe containing tapes and notes at the Burr Ridge Station at 10S110 S. Madison St. on Nov. 21.

“Strenzel … started to pull papers out of the safe, ‘at which time she stopped and was worried that unlawful entry had been gained,’” according to records obtained by BGA. Police determined that nothing was missing and classified the burglary as suspicious circumstances due to lack of evidence.

Strenzel followed up at the scene with speculative questions regarding what should be done if someone had erased the tapes using a magnet. The next day, the police were recalled to the same station and were asked to move items into a new safe. Records indicate that the officers declined to physically perform the task, instead observing Strenzel doing so.

At the next regular board meeting in mid-December, Strenzel and one other trustee voted to keep closed session meeting minutes confidential, with Orrico the sole opponent.

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Tri-State Fire Protection District news

Excerpts from the

Former Tri-State Fire Trustee Micheal Orrico Charged With Crime 

Justice is slow in Illinois, but at least there does appear to be hope when it comes to holding public officials accountable, and this is a perfect example of how we can make a difference.

In August of 2015,  this article, clearly pointed out what we believed was a violation of the law by then Tri-State Fire Protection District Trustee Micheal Orrico.  Specifically, I reported Mr. Michael Orrico sells fire equipment for Fire Service, Inc.  What did he say about his employment in his Economic Disclosure Statement for his trustee position (page 55 of the pdf)? Not a word:”

What did we say was the consequence for nondisclosure?

(5 ILCS 420/4A-107) Any person required to file a statement of economic interests under this Article who willfully files a false or incomplete statement shall be guilty of a Class A misdemeanor.

We are proud to see that the Darien Police Department investigated this alleged crime and found the same thing that we reported!

September 13, 2016, an arrest warrant was issued for Micheal Orrico

The charge:  Filing a False Statement of Economic Interest in violation of the following Illinois Compiled Statute 5 ILCS 420/4A-107

It’s encouraging to see enforcement of our laws against those alleged to have violated them.  Public officials statewide should pay attention to this matter as we believe this is the FIRST time we have seen this particular law enforced and will hopefully be the beginning of holding violators accountable.

thanks Dan & Scott

The documents can be viewed HERE

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Tri-State FPD back in the news (more)

From the

We see that DuPage County State’s Attorney charged a (former) Winfield Fire Protection District person deputy chief with felony forgery and official misconduct for what appears to be presenting a forged college diploma. Keeping that in mind, let’s look at what we believe may be an even worse case in DuPage County.

We wrote numerous articles on the Tri-State Fire Protection District regarding actions of the chief and one of the trustees, and now we have the audit that was performed and it pretty much validates everything we found and reported on as well as numerous other concerns.  For example:

“Although FSI submitted the highest initial bid to the RFP, TFPD ultimately chose FSI to provide the ambulances. FSI subsequently lowered its price (taking out of consideration the Stryker Power Loader) to a level similar to Alexis. Additionally, TFPD purchased a used ambulance from FSI (approximately $170,000) without a competitive bidding or RFP process.

Chief Mancione dealt primarily with Jeff LeBeda at FSI. However, it is known that TFPD Trustee Michael Orrico was an employee of FSI during this time period.

TFPD accepted the proposal of FSI and received a final invoice (for one ambulance) via email on November 14, 2014. Addenda to the September 29, 2014, contract were dated December 12, 2014.

On January 8, 2015, Jeff LeBeda at FSI communicated to Chief Mancione that he was speaking with Trustee Orrico regarding changes that needed to be made to one of the ambulances.

The price and specifications on the acquired ambulances changed several times during the process.  However, what did not change during this time was the fact that Trustee Orrico (an employee of FSI) filed State of Economic Interests forms with the County of DuPage that declared (from 2010-2015) that he had no conflicts of interest with his duties to TFPD. It should also be noted that Trustee Orrico appears to not have disclosed his affiliation with FSI during any TFPD board meetings in which he participated.

A review of the FSI website lists Jeff LeBeda as the Illinois sales manager and Mike Orrico as an Illinois sales representative (as of June 1, 2016)”

I outlined in great detail what appeared to be a class 4 Felony act on that very topic.  I am pleased to see what we found for free has been validated by auditors that probably charged ten’s of thousands of dollars to confirm.  The question now, will the DuPage County State’s Attorney’s office investigate these activities and charge anyone?  Let’s be honest, a trustee not disclosing his conflict of interest while purchasing ambulances from the very company that he is the Illinois sales representative for clearly is self-enrichment.  Not to mention presenting an Economic Disclosure Statement that is false, making it a forgery as it misrepresents the truth.  Not much different than a forged college diploma!

“It was discovered that there was damage to the roof of the station (see A. above) and that repairs would need to be implemented in order to sell the station.

A proposal dated November 20, 2014, was presented to TFPD by MI Construction and Roofing (a company owned and operated by former Chief Jack Mancione).  This company is also associated with another Mancione run company – Werk Management (a full-service community association property manager).

MI Construction and Roofing is located in Woodridge, IL. Its website utilizes an internet address of “”. Total Cost of the proposal was $6,710.

The company’s CEO is Lisa Luna. Ms. Luna is noted as a “maintenance supervisor” for Werk Management. She is not listed on the MI Construction and Roofing website.

A $9,000 credit was given by TFPD to HAC Holdings, LLC at the closing of the transaction.

It appears that the representative of HAC Holdings LLC (Bill Remkus) and Chief Mancione continued to communicate with regard to the roof repairs well beyond the sale date. In fact, on March 17, 2015, Bill Remkus contacted Chief Mancione with regard to meeting to talk about the roof repairs.

Chief Mancione responded to Bill Remkus that same day utilizing a TFPD email account and utilizing a signature as follows:
Field Response:
Jack L. Mancione
Chief Administrative Officer”

Although the chief fled from office after we exposed his malfeasance on multiple fronts, it does appear he may have been doing business utilizing the fire department resources and possibly contracting out for work on matters that he had influence over.  In the above case, it appears the fire department (was) offered a large discount because of the roofing problems and considering communications took place with the chief after the sale regarding roof repairs, this may also be a class 4 Felony.  Again, will the DuPage County State’s Attorney’s office investigate these matters and make a determination?

We spent a very brief amount of time looking into the Tri-State Fire Protection District and uncovered a litany of problems.  It appears a new group of trustees has taken the bull by the horns and is actually cleaning things up.  My only suggestion to them, request prosecutions for the crimes committed because if you don’t send the message and hold them accountable those same violators will leach off yet another public body and continue to harm the taxpayers.

thanks Dan

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Tri-State FPD back in the news (more)

Excerpts from the

We received word … from Eric Habercross, a Tri State FPD Trustee, that a resignation letter was submitted by Micheal Orrico on August 12th, 2015, three days after being exposed of his illegally holding office.

Maybe now after years of controversy within this department they can move forward and continue to weed out the bad and rise up to what most fire departments are known for: community service.

thanks Dan & Scott

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Tri-State FPD back in the news (more)

Form the

I closed our last article on the Tri-State Fire Protection District with this statement:  “Stay tuned for some pretty amazing exposure yet to come!”   (Click here for previous article) 

I think amazing is an understatement.  Mr. Orrico has once again proven that old saying that if it looks and smells like a rat, it must be a rat.  Turns out Mr. Orrico is violating yet another law and is no longer even legally a trustee!

In order to be a trustee of a fire district you have to be an “inhabitant” of the district. What is the common legal definition of inhabitant?   One who resides actually and permanently in a given place, and has his domicile there, says Blacks Law Dictionary.

So why shouldn’t Mr. Orrico be a Trustee at Tri State FPD? Because he lives in Joliet, Illinois.  On April 21, 2015, Mr. Orrico purchased a house in Joliet with his name clearly on the deed.  (Click here for copy of the Deed)

Property tax records reflect his primary residence is at the Joliet address by the fact he received the $6,000.00 homeowners exemption on his tax bill which is applied if you claim it as your primary residence.  (Click here for copy of property tax records with exemption highlighted)

The property he owns in the Fire District,  where he told the DuPage County voter registration people he lived, may be another concern depending on timing.  The name on that mailbox sure doesn’t say Orrico.  The Dupage County recorder shows he still owns the property, but he did not claim a homeowners exemption on that property.  (Click here for DuPage county tax records)

Fire district trustee is not a popular job so one must ask, why did  Mr. Orrico want this job in the first place?  A contract for his company for three ambulances seems like a good start. Perhaps his well known chummy relationship with the Chief has played a role that benefits them both?  Regardless, one thing is for sure, Mr. Orrico is no longer a trustee of the fire district as of April 21, 2015 and any action he took since that date should be closely reviewed for possible legal concerns.

The Fire Protection District Act is very clear.  (70 ILCS 705/5) Whenever a member of the elected board of trustees of a fire protection district ceases to be an inhabitant of the district, his or her office shall become immediately vacant.

Not only does the Fire Protection District Act spell this out, so too does the Election Code.  (10 ILCS 5/25-2)   Sec. 25-2. Events on which an elective office becomes vacant. Every elective office shall become vacant on the happening of any of the following events before the expiration of the term of such office:
(1) The death of the incumbent.
(2) His or her resignation.
(3) His or her becoming a person under legal disability.
(4) His or her ceasing to be an inhabitant of the State; or if the office is local, his or her ceasing to be an inhabitant of the district,

So it is very clear, Mr. Orrico is no longer a trustee for the Tri-State FPD, thus a vacancy exists!  If he claims otherwise he can explain to the Will County authorities why he committed fraud in applying for the homeowners exemption.

May we suggest his access to the facility be terminated immediately and his keys recovered as to further protect the citizens from any possible future malfeasance.

And once again, Stay tuned for more amazing exposure yet to come that may well lead to the removal of yet another official.

thanks Scott

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Tri-State FPD back in the news

Excerpts from

The Tri-State Fire Protection District came to our attention after our work at COD was off and running.  Numerous requests for assistance hit our in box, and after reviewing a series of articles by the Better Government Association we knew there would be more! (BGA Article).

Those articles showed the public the improper use of taxpayer money, the conflict of the trustee giving her civil union partner promotions and benefits, and brought into question how equipment was purchased. We were able to take some time to FOIA documentation from the district based on input from local citizens on the relationship of a board member to the purchase of several ambulances both new and used.  What we found appears to be a clear violation of the state ethics policy and the fire protection district act by Mr. Michael Orrico, the board treasurer.

In September of last year, Tri-State put out an RFP, not a request for bids, for two new ambulances. A number of qualified companies sent in offers to provide the ambulances like Foster Coach ($181,150 per ambulance) and Alexis Fire ($161,935 per ambulance) and Fire Services, Inc. (about $164,000 per ambulance), however it appears all of these were sent in by email and were not sealed.

After the RFP for two ambulances were put out, the agent for Fire Services, Inc. offered a used ambulance to the district for about $170,000. That ambulance was later bought for $167,965. This ambulance was not bid out and was not part of the published RFP process, but somehow this USED ambulance cost more than a new ambulance.

After initial quotes being placed by all three companies, only one company was considered, Fire Services, Inc. Final offers from Fire Services, Inc. were made on the ambulances without a Stryker power loader for a 2013 chassis Wheeled Coach ambulance for $166,087 and for a 2015 chassis Wheeled Coach ambulance for $169,702.

On a side note, the agent for Fire Services, Inc talked directly to Mike Orrico about a hood issue with the paint in January of 2015 on the used ambulance.

Final invoices for the two ambulances were issued early this year. On February 20, 2015 Fire Services, Inc. invoiced $162,587 for a 2015 chassis ambulance, and on May 26, 2015 Fire Services, Inc. invoiced $166,202 for a 2015 chassis ambulance. The district also purchased a no-bid USED ambulance from Fire Services, Inc. for a total of three ambulances on a two ambulance RFP.

Now where this gets even more interesting is with the discovery that that one of the trustees works for the company that eventually sold the ambulances to the district.

Mr. Michael Orrico sells fire equipment for Fire Service, Inc.  What did he say about his employment in his Economic Disclosure Statement for his trustee position (page 55 of the pdf below)? Not a word:

“Except for professional service entities, the name of any entity and any position held therein from which income in excess of $1,200 was derived during the preceding calendar year if the entity does business with a unit of local government in relation to which the person is required to file.”

Mr. Orrico said N/A.

What is the consequence for nondisclosure?

(5 ILCS 420/4A-107) Any person required to file a statement of economic interests under this Article who willfully files a false or incomplete statement shall be guilty of a Class A misdemeanor.

Did he mention his relationship with the company as required by law under the Illinois Fire Protection District Act? Nope. My review of all the online minutes show he didn’t say anything at the time the RFP’s were put out or when they were reviewed. He blatantly violated 70 ILCS 705/4 by not paying attention to the below:

“No trustee or employee of such district shall be directly or indirectly interested financially in any contract work or business or the sale of any article, the expense, price or consideration of which is paid by the district; nor in the purchase of any real estate or other property, belonging to the district, or which shall be sold for taxes or assessments or by virtue of legal process at the suit of the district.”

There are exemptions to this rule which are all inclusive but none apply to Mr. Orrico:

A. The award of the contract is approved by a majority vote of the board of trustees of the fire protection district provided that any such interested member shall abstain from voting; (NO VOTE TAKEN according to available minutes)

B. the amount of the contract does not exceed $1000; (WELL OVER $1000)

C. the award of the contract would not cause the aggregate amount of all such contracts so awarded to the same person, firm, association, partnership, corporation, or cooperative association in the same fiscal year to exceed $2000; (WELL OVER $2000)

D. such interested member publicly discloses the nature and extent of his interest prior to or during deliberations concerning the proposed award of the contract; (NO DISCLOSURE ON PUBLIC RECORD)

E. such interested member abstains from voting on the award of the contract, though he shall be considered present for the purposes of establishing a quorum. (DID NOT ABSTAIN SINCE BOARD DIDN’T VOTE ON THIS CONTRACT according to available minutes)

Did he abstain from voting for the purchase of these two ambulances? That one is a little more sticky since this board doesn’t appear to vote for large ticket items in open session. Not one discussion was had in the months before or after the bids were taken on approving a major equipment purchase. Perhaps that was to cover for Mr. Orrico’s conflict, I don’t know. (Link to all those minutes)

What are the consequences of Mr. Orrico’s acts:

“Any officer or employee who violates this Section is guilty of a Class 4 felony and in addition thereto any office held by such person so convicted shall become vacant and shall be so declared as part of the judgment of the court.”

How did the lawyers for the district allow this to happen on their watch?

Probably because the district uses the same law firm as the College of DuPage was using under Breuders watch!  (Attorney for Tri-State FPD)

Stay tuned for some pretty amazing exposure yet to come!

You can see the paper trail on this article below or download.

Download (PDF, 1.73MB)

thanks Dan and Scott

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Texas assistant chief from comes from Tri-State FPD has an article about a new assistant chief that came from this area:

It’s a long way from Chicago, Ill. to Murphy, Texas, but this is where Mike Orrico wanted to work and live.

“My friends settled down here,” he said. “There are many opportunities here. I settled in Murphy because of the demographics. I knew it was a place where I wanted to live and work.”

Orrico said he first applied for a position with the Murphy Fire Dept. three years ago.

“I was one of the top two candidates for the administrative captain position, but I was not hired. From that time, I kept looking for something in the Murphy area. When this position of assistant fire chief came up, I applied and was hired successfully.”

Orrico brings more than 30 years of experience working in a fire department in the Chicago-metro area. He began his career as a volunteer, part-time firefighter and emergency medical technician for 10 years, he said. The next 22 years, Orrico worked as a career firefighter. The last seven years he has spent working as a part-time member of the administrative team for [the Tri-State] fire protection district.

“I am excited to be working directly with the firefighters again,” he said. “In the administrative position I held, I wasn’t able to work directly with firefighters.”

As assistant fire chief, Orrico will have many responsibilities ranging from administrative duties, to overseeing training and the health and safety of the firefighters, to planning department operations.




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BGA has more to say about the Tri-State FPD

The Better Government Association has the Tri-State Fire Protection District back in their sites with the following article:

More Smoke Coming Out Of Tri-State

Dec 30, 2013
bo_gibbons_jill_Strenzel_BGAphotoTrustees Hamilton “Bo” Gibbons and Jill Strenzel / BGA photo

Firefighters, of all people, know that where there’s smoke, there’s often fire.

And several firefighters in the western suburbs are concerned about the “smoke” coming from their very own department.

A series of Better Government Association articles on the Darien-based Tri-State Fire Protection District has already exposed wild spending habits, conflicts of interest and pension “spiking” within the agency.

Since then, a number of curious events have occurred at the district – again, raising eyebrows among the rank and file and calling into question Tri-State’s leadership.

The most recent situation centers around confidential tape recordings from closed-door meetings of Tri-State’s board of trustees – an oversight body comprised of three elected officials.

According to the Illinois Open Meetings Act, trustees are allowed to convene in private to discuss sensitive material such as litigation or personnel matters, provided certain rules are followed. Among the rules, they must keep a “verbatim record” – either video or audio – of all sessions closed to the public.

Until recently, Tri-State’s closed session tapes were stored at the private residence shared by Trustee Jill Strenzel and Fire Chief Michelle Gibson, who have been in a relationship for many years and entered in a civil union in 2012.

Michelle_GibsonFire Chief Michelle Gibson

After Trustee Michael Orrico raised concerns at a public board meeting in September about the location of the tapes and the accuracy of meeting minutes, Strenzel said the tapes were in her possession because of renovations at Tri-State and that if Orrico wanted to listen to any of them, they could arrange it.

But in reality, that hasn’t been so easy.

Seven special meetings have since been scheduled to listen to tapes, and at least four of those were ultimately canceled.

And on one especially bizarre occasion, the police intervened.

On Nov. 21, Burr Ridge police responded to a reported burglary at the Tri-State station located at 10S110 Madison St. in Burr Ridge where Strenzel told officers someone “broke into” a district safe holding tapes and other notes, according to police reports obtained by the BGA through the Illinois Freedom of Information Act.

According to the reports, Strenzel was at the firehouse and started to pull papers out of the safe “at which time she stopped and was worried that unlawful entry had been gained.”

After investigating, the police concluded that nothing was missing from the safe. Due to a lack of evidence, officers were unable to determine a crime had been committed and reclassified the burglary as “suspicious circumstances.”

Strenzel, who, according to the reports, is the only person who possesses a key and combination for the safe, asked a police officer “what should be done if they found that someone had erased the tapes ‘using a magnet’ at which time” the officer advised her to contact authorities, records show.

The police were called back to the station after midnight on Nov. 22 and were asked to “move items from a compromised safe to a new safe.” Officers declined to physically get involved but watched Strenzel move three envelops, five plastic bags containing audio tapes, 11 manila envelops and one recording device from one safe to another.

The reported break-in came only a few days after yet another strange episode related to district tapes. Just before a regular board meeting was about to begin on Nov. 18, Strenzel fell outside of the station and broke two empty tape recorders, according to meeting minutes. At the request of a district attorney, an employee was sent to buy another recording device “so that there could be a closed session meeting,” the documents show.

Whatever has been going on during executive session remains a mystery.

At the Dec. 17 regular board meeting, the trustees voted (Strenzel and Hamilton “Bo” Gibbons yes, Orrico no) to approve – and keep confidential – meeting minutes from several closed sessions from the past year.

In another interesting development at Tri-State, paramedics and emergency medical technicians who are employed by Public Safety Services Inc. but work at Tri-State have been organizing to form a union.

Already more than 50 percent of workers signed cards seeking union representation, according to an official with the International Association of EMTs and Paramedics. An election will be held at the district at the end of the month, and results should be announced by the New Year.

In the midst of the union drive, Gibson announced that Shelly Carbone, who oversaw the paramedics at Tri-State, “has been offered an opportunity within PSSI to be involved more at the corporate level” and would no longer be working at Tri-State as EMS coordinator, according to interviews and a Dec. 19 email obtained by the BGA.

PSSI did not return phone calls.

With all the recent commotion at the west suburban department, it seems as though the district is beginning to unravel.

Firefighters, meanwhile, are standing by, keeping a close watch on the rising smoke.

thanks Dan & Scott

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