Posts Tagged Tri-State Fire Chief Jack Mancione

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 begins search for new chief

Excerpts from the

The Tri-State Fire Protection District will be looking for a new fire chief after Jack Mancione stepped down earlier this month with 18 months left on his contract, said Eric Habercoss, president of the district’s board of trustees. The board appointed Battalion Chief Patrick Brenn acting fire chief at its Monday meeting.

The Tri-State district provides fire protection services to parts of Burr Ridge, Darien, Willowbrook, Willow Springs and unincorporated DuPage County.

Mancione had been chief following the retirement of Chief Michelle Gibson in February 2014. Gibson’s retirement agreement was criticized by the Better Government Association because it called for paying her $115,000 for unused sick, vacation and personal days and an additional $22,000.

The terms of Mancione’s retirement agreement, which the board approved Nov. 16, will not be released until after Mancione has received a copy, which is expected to happen Monday, the district’s administrative assistant said.

Habercoss said he believes the agreement is fair and reasonable. The terms were based on Mancione’s contract, which was approved before Habercoss was elected to the Tri-State Board in April.

A week after Mancione retired, Deputy Fire Chief William Just also retired.

In the past four months, the Edgar County Watchdog website has criticized Mancione for not documenting donations of used fire district equipment and releasing personal health information about employees as part of a response to a FOIA request. Mancione did not respond to a request for comment.

Habercoss said the district is checking with an executive recruiting firm and the Illinois Association of Fire Chiefs to find out the costs of getting outside help with the search for a new chief. Habercoss said the board wants a chief who will clean up the administration and modernize the administration, policies, and procedures.

The district has drawn increased scrutiny since the Better Government Association reported last year that despite Gibson and a district trustee, Julie Strenzel, being in a civil union and raising a family together, Strenzel did not recuse herself from votes on Gibson’s salary, benefits, and retirement agreement. Strenzel ran for re-election April 7, but lost to Habercoss.

Hamilton Gibbons, who was president of the board when Gibson retired, subsequently stepped down. Bob Jewell was chosen to replace Gibbons. Further change occurred in August when Trustee Mike Orrico said he was no longer living in the district and resigned. The remaining two trustees interviewed five candidates and selected Joseph Wolski to fill Orrico’s spot.

Responding to residents’ call for an expanded board, the board has voted to expand the number of district trustees from three to five. The district received differing legal opinions about when the board expansion could occur. Habercross favors waiting for them to be chosen in the April 2017 election.

The board at its Nov. 16 meeting also instructed the district’s Board of Fire Commissioners to proceed with the hiring of three new firefighters.

“We seem to be moving in the right direction,” Habercoss said.

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Tri-State FPD chief retires

From a letter to the MABAS 10 chiefs:

Please see below from our friends at Tri-State

Subject: Chief Jack L. Mancione retires

This email comes with mixed feelings as we announce the retirement of Chief Jack L. Mancione.  Jack has had a 30 year career in the fire service, and he has decided that the time has come to retire.

Chief Mancione has worked his way through the ranks to an accomplished and recognized Chief Officer that has received several life safety and civic awards as well as the respect of his Community.

Jack has contributed thirty years of experience to our Fire District, and his achievements will not be forgotten. Please join us in wishing him the best in the next steps of his journey.

March 4, 1985 – November 6th, 2015

Congratulations Chief!

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BGA has more to say about the Tri-State FPD

Excerpts from the Investigator’s Blog:

New board leadership recently took the helm at the embattled Tri-State Fire Protection District – but not without problems.

A newly elected trustee who ran on a campaign of reform is raising concerns about transparency and accountability within the west suburban district, one of the largest agencies of its kind in the state.

Back in April’s election, Eric Habercoss unseated longtime Tri-State trustee Jill Strenzel, who for years had been voting on the salary and benefits of her civil union partner, former Tri-State Fire Chief Michelle Gibson. (Gibson exited the district last year, taking with her a retirement package worth more than $136,000 – a deal that was also approved by Strenzel.)

Shortly after the election, another longtime trustee, Hamilton “Bo” Gibbons, resigned, saying it was “time for a change.”

To replace him, the board called for a special meeting on May 13 and appointed Bob Jewell, who was president of Tri-State’s board of commissioners, which handles the hiring and testing of rank-and-file employees. (That’s as opposed to the Tri-State board of trustees, which oversees district finances.)

The move irked Habercoss, who felt the board rushed the process to make a decision before he was to take office on May 18.

“I’m being sworn in Monday. This appointment could have been made then,” Habercoss said during the public comment portion of the special meeting. “However, the process was forced through to keep me from participating.”

Jewell and Strenzel could not be immediately reached while Trustee Mike Orrico declined to publicly comment.

Later, on May 18, at his first official meeting as a trustee, Habercoss outlined a number of his additional concerns with the district, including the transparency surrounding a recent ambulance purchase and access to public records.

Tri-State Fire Chief Jack Mancione said the district has never been “as transparent as it is now” and that he’s looking forward to moving on from the district’s past controversies.

But Habercoss said he’s seeing a lot of the same problems that were apparent under the old regime.

In one recent, and somewhat familiar, incident, the police became involved – again – in a matter having to do with Tri-State’s closed-session meeting tapes.

It started when Strenzel, prior to leaving office, hadn’t turned in her key to the district safe that contains tapes and other records.

Then, on May 20, Habercoss contacted the police after he learned the safe had been opened while Strenzel and Mancione took an inventory of what was inside, according to a police report.

“My concern is that two civilians without any trustee present had access to private and confidential closed-session tapes, which may very well pertain to them,” Habercoss said.

Meetings can be closed off to the public when trustees discuss certain sensitive information such as litigation and personnel matters, but those sessions are recorded.

Mancione said there had been no wrongdoing.

“It was as simple as that. We opened the door, I confirmed her key worked and confirmed there was something in there,” he said.

According to the police report, the “case requires no police action and the report is for documentation purposes only.” The case has since been closed.

As we reported previously, Burr Ridge police responded to a reported burglary in 2013 at Tri-State when Strenzel said someone broke into a district safe containing tapes and then asked what should be done if the recordings had been erased “using a magnet.”

Police were called back again that night to “move items from a compromised safe to a new safe,” records show. You can read more about that incident here.

For other past stories on Tri-State, which provides taxpayer-financed firefighting and emergency medical services to parts of Burr Ridge, Darien, Willowbrook, Willow Springs and unincorporated DuPage County, please see:

Under Fire

Suburban fire chief resigns amid mounting questions about her agency’s finances and leadership. But she’s not leaving empty-handed – she collects a lucrative exit package.

Hey Rig Spender

Suburban fire department claims tight finances – but spends freely on pricey fire trucks, meals and various perks.

Are Taxpayers Getting Burned?

Top officials at suburban fire department get hefty pay raises just as they retire – creating a pension windfall that could cost local residents an extra $1.5 million.

A Burning Conflict

Fire district trustee votes on fire chief’s pay, benefits. Only problem: they live together.

Not All Government Consolidations Work

Should the district be expanding and taking on more responsibilities when its own financial house isn’t in order?

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