Forest Preserve District of Will County finds no financial irregularities after CFO put on leave

Board president: Organization already was undergoing annual audit

A view of the sign at the main entrance to Rock Run Rookery Preserve Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2012 in Joliet.

Forest Preserve District of Will County officials said an external audit of district finances has not found any irregularities, even after the chief financial officer was put on administrative leave amid a probe into irregularities at the Joliet Park District where he used to work.

The district placed Matt Pehle on paid administrative leave last week as the investigation at the park district came to light. Pehle has worked at the forest preserve for a little more than a year and makes an annual salary of $125,000 as the CFO.

The Herald-News learned last week the park district called in Joliet police to investigate possible misuse of a district credit card by a former employee. Sources said the former employee under investigation is Pehle.

Joe VanDuyne, D-Wilmington, a Will County Board member and the president of the forest preserve district board, said the district has been going through its regular audit over the past couple of months. He said the auditors have told district officials that they’ve found no irregularities, even after they were asked to “dig a littler deeper.”

The district has “scrutinized credit card, bank and financial software accounts and discussed this information with the District’s auditor, Sikitch,” according to a statement from spokeswoman Cindy Cain.

If any red flags arise in the future, VanDuyne said, the district would be willing to do more to investigate.

“Staff would keep the board involved,” he said. “We would know (if more work is needed).”

Cain added that “the Forest Preserve District takes financial matters seriously and has very strict internal controls and checks and balances. Any hint of possible improprieties will be thoroughly investigated.”

VanDuyne said no further action will be taken in regard to Pehle pending the investigation at the park district.

Joliet Park District officials appeared to have differing takes on how the irregularities came to light. The district hired an accounting firm for a forensic audit on the matter.