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Will County Forest Preserve CFO terminated months after being put on leave amid investigation

The Will County Forest Preserve District Board effectively fired the district’s chief financial officer on Thursday, nearly four months after he was put on leave amid an investigation into financial irregularities by his previous employer.

With the action, the board voted to reorganize the forest preserve’s administrative structure as the district had been functioning without its CFO, Matt Pehle, since January.

While the district did not specify the reason for placing Pehle on leave at the time, the action came not long after the Joliet Park District called Joliet police to investigate a possible misuse of a district credit card by a former employee.

Sources told The Herald-News the former employee under investigation was Pehle, who had worked as the park district’s finance director.

With the forest preserve’s reorganization, the duties of the CFO were either eliminated or reassigned to Chief Operating Officer Ralph Schultz and other employees. Schultz suggested the reorganization to the board in a memo citing the “unknown duration of the CFO absence.”

“We were able to complete all those tasks and duties and that position (CFO) wasn’t necessary at this time,” Schultz said.

Schultz added that since district officials were unsure how long Pehle would be on leave, and they realized some of the CFO’s duties could be incorporated into other roles, he decided to suggest the change.

The board also named Schultz executive director, essentially returning the forest preserve to the organization structure it had prior to 2016, according to the memo.

Pehle was earning a salary of about $128,000, according to Schultz.

After Pehle was put on leave, the forest preserve district announced that it commissioned an external audit of its finances and found no irregularities.

Joliet Police Department spokesman Sgt. Dwayne English said the department is continuing to actively investigate the case of reported financial irregularities at the Joliet Park District.

Source: The Daily Chronicle

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