Wednesday, February 12, 2014

CHICAGO'S VERSION OF BERNIE MADOFF PONZI SCHEME AT MPEA

Here is how Carlos Ponce "made off" with a hefty consulting agreement and then parlayed that into a job as Acting Chief of Staff at MPEA.

Here is the "Ponce Scheme" cooked up between Ponce and Juan Ochoa, political hack appointed by Governor Rod Blagojevich. 

It is interesting to note that their personal relationship started back when both were associated with the Illinois Hispanic Chamber where Ponce mentored Ochoa.

Background
On January 8, 2008 Carlos Ponce, President of Resonance Management & Technology Solutions, Inc. entered into a sole source/No Bid contract with MPEA for "Business Improvement Plan Project" (R2007-48). 
The process plan & deliverables are detailed on Page 2 of the Agreement

The Agreement calls for the issuance of a Report. 
Under 2 FOIA requests, MPEA failed to produce a copy of the Report and advised they do not have a copy. If Ponce has a copy (that he was compensated for), we request that he make it available to MPEA so that they can properly comply with the FOIA.

The fee schedule as set forth in Exhibit A under Article 3 Compensation was not produced by MPEA under FOIA.
However, MPEA did provide the payouts to Ponce.

Note that the first payment of $9,555 was paid on September 30, 2007, fully 3 months prior to the execution of the Agreement. The total payment was exactly $28,421.25. MPEA failed to produce the detailed invoices from Resonance Management under this FOIA request.

Ponce executed the Agreement on 2/19/2008 and it was countersigned by Juan Ochoa, CEO MPEA on 3/19/2008.

Who authorized payment to Ponce months prior to the execution of a binding contract with MPEA?

Here is where the story gets even more interesting....

In 2009, the Chicago Press launched a series of investigative reporting related to improprieties at MPEA under Ochoa's leadership. Corruption Busters has previously reported on the outcome...the Illinois legislature and Governor Quinn forcibly removed the MPEA Board for mismanagement of the Authority.

Under siege, in 2009 Ochoa strikes a deal with Ponce to become Acting Chief of Staff, approved by the sitting board. Ponce was employed from 9/3/2009 to 7/6/2010 at an hourly rate of $180.

Ponce is an at-will employee with no personal service contract. Here is Ponce's compensation during his short tenure until Ochoa's forced resignation.


Our examination of Ponce's total compensation of $152,270.50 (over 9 months) revealed a number that made us curious. So we issued a FOIA regarding the July 10, 2010 payment in the amount of $34,017.77.





Page 2 (b) Additional Lump Sum Payment is very interesting..

This sentence resonates loud and clear...

"Employee understands that, but for Employee's promises in this Agreement, Employee would NOT BE ELIGIBLE to receive the Separation Payment from the Authority."

Apparently, Ponce negotiated a Separation Agreement with himself that he executed on June 30, 2010 (simply rubber stamped & countersigned by Jeanine Gillen who was Sr. Director of Human Resources forced to resign via "early retirement" 6/30/2010). These dates are no coincidence. (check out the signature page below...Ponce executed the Agreement as Chief of Staff and the "Employee" line is signed by Gillen! 

This is very sloppy paperwork on a legally binding contract. It is also interesting to note that the Agreement was not witnessed by a member of the MPEA legal staff.

Ponce executed this Agreement for personal gain at taxpayer expense as a parting gift for serving as Ochoa's shield for a mere Nine Months!

So, Ponce engaged in a "Ponce Scheme" and made off with the cash.

We call upon the United States Attorney to investigate the conspiracy by Ochoa and Ponce to obtain funds for personal gain and the abuse of the public trust.

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