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Illinois DOC Mishandling DUI Due to Nepotism?

Routine inquiries by the Associated Press may have unearthed a case of nepotism and foiled a DUI cover-up within the Illinois Department of Corrections. After the AP filed Freedom of Information Act requests with the DOC regarding an employee's DUI, the agency initially had no record of mandatory reports of the incident, nor of an internal investigation.

Jeffrey Beck, 27, is the son of the chief investigator for the agency. On February 27, he allegedly had a BAC of 0.257 -- more than three times the legal limit -- when he plowed through a tree and into the parked pickup truck of Steve Harter. Harter's truck was rammed through the wall of his home, knocking him and his easy chair into the next room. Miraculously, he suffered no significant injuries.

The criminal aspect of the case is only one of the consequences of a DUI. For Beck, since this seems to be his first offense, and there were luckily no serious injuries, he’s probably destined for a slap on the wrist. Most first timers get a fairly lenient sentence. The statute calls for a minimum of five days in jail or 240 hours of community service. Even the sentencing enhancement for Beck’s alleged uber-high BAC only requires an additional minimum of a hundred hours of service. The likeliest result is a few hundred hours of service, probation, and perhaps a day or two in jail.

However, employees of the Department of Corrections are required to file a report on any arrest more serious than a minor traffic violation within five days, reports the AP. The AP’s initial request for a copy of that report, made about six months after the arrest, came up empty.

Two and a half months later, a cursory report, missing significant details, was provided. It was somehow filed at Graham prison, by Beck, eleven hours after the accident, while he was reportedly still receiving treatment for a head injury. It wasn’t signed by a supervisor until three days later.

It all sounds fishy. And ideally, when there is a conflict of interest, such as the father acting as chief investigator overseeing those who investigate his son, an independent investigator should be appointed. Beck’s father, Larry Beck, never disclosed the conflict to his bosses at the DOC.

The AP’s investigation has resulted in close scrutiny of the DOC and Beck’s handling of his son’s case, including the eye of Senator Kirk Dillard. While this case may not directly impact most people, it does serve as an important reminder that actions outside of the job can have a great impact on one’s status inside the job, even if they have connections.

Those in a position of trust, such as law enforcement officers or licensed professions, have much to lose by committing the entirely preventable crime of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

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