Napolitano: College of DuPage 'dropped the ball' in theft case
A former College of DuPage (COD) employee has been arrested and charged with felony theft over allegations that he stole more than $200,000 from campus radio station WDCB-FM 90.9.
The jazz radio station's chief engineer, John Valenta, billed the school over $400,000 through his private company between June 2006 and December 2013. Authorities say Valenta repeatedly submitted fake invoices for parts never received and for power-outage maintenance that never occurred.
This isn’t the first time Valenta has faced criminal theft allegations. In 2013, he pleaded guilty to felony theft charges and was sentenced to two years' probation after using his business to steal from Elmhurst College.
The situation raises questions about employment verification and financial oversight at the taxpayer-funded community college.
Frank Napolitano, a candidate currently running for one of three open COD Trustee Board positions, questioned the College’s employee verification system and said the school “dropped the ball” when it hired Valenta.
“It is up to college officials, administrators and HR to do due diligence before entering contracts with employees,” Napolitano said. “Perhaps even the most basic background check would have helped with this; however, it is clear that Valenta’s criminal history was not looked into thoroughly.”
It took COD officials nearly three years to uncover Valenta’s theft case at Elmhurst. Valenta, who was responsible for submitting and validating his own invoices, retired from the station shortly before the college’s auditor issued an internal report accusing the former employee of fraudulent invoicing.
“There is this basic idea of holding people accountable and making sure people are doing the right things and paying the right bills. This situation was, unfortunately, an oversight that was missing on every level,” Napolitano said.
Napolitano then said that while COD hopes that every employee is operating ethically, the college will be taking measures to look further into the backgrounds of any hiree who has the authority to approve contracts.
“There are certainly many actions that should be taken within COD internal staff. Increased background and criminal checks are a good place to start,” Napolitano said. “This situation has brought both internal and public awareness to problems with COD and this increased awareness, in general, should help (uncover) any other problems within the school’s system.”
College of DuPage is a two-year community college in Glen Ellyn that serves 29,000 students from the main campus and facilities in Addison, Bloomingdale, Carol Stream, Naperville, West Chicago and Westmont. The school, founded in 1967, operates a public radio station and newspaper, and is noted for its architecture and meteorology. departments. Robert Breuder is the college's president.