Illinois tollway worker jailed for stealing fines

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Chicago Skyway toll plaza in Chicago

A former employee of the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority was sentenced on Monday to one year in prison for stealing fines from the agency.

Thirty-four-year-old Uganda T. Harris from Bellwood was accused of embezzling over $36,000 from the tollway authority in a period of six months. She pleaded guilty to the charges in June. She is to report to the DuPage County jail on November 30 to begin a one-year work-release program that only allows her out to work 40 hours per week. She will also serve four years of probation and will be required to pay the agency $1,000 for insurance coverage in addition to the more than $36,000 she allegedly stole.

Harris had worked as a customer service representative since June 2007. An audit by the tollway authority's inspector general's office revealed that she incorrectly classified the fines she collected as coming from I-PASS users, who pay lesser fines, and pocketed the cash. The Illinois State Police later caught Harris with $1,100 in marked $20-bills they used to pay a phony fine during an undercover investigation. She claimed that she did this only rarely and to help those people in desperate need of relief from what she saw as high tollway fines.