Illinois Corruption: The State’s 20 Most Politically Corrupt Women Of The 21st Century

By Caitlin Wilson
Reboot Illinois.

We use the term “old boys network” as shorthand for the culture that breeds political corruption. A new study from the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute contends the term is gender-inaccurate.

“Unsupervised, Ensnared, Relational, and Private: A Typology of Illinois’ Corrupt Women” takes a look at the women of Illinois who have been convicted for abusing their official powers. It challenges the notion that “female public officials have a deterrent effect on corruption” and examines the methods and motivations most common among female officials who have been convicted.

Author Ryan Ceresola finds four common themes in the female officials and their crimes.
1. Accesses public resources with little to no supervision
2. Collaborates with others in some misdeed
3. Commits corrupt acts with family members, specifically spouses or boyfriends
4. Uses corrupt gains for personal, rather than career-advancing, reasons.

With this analysis, I suggest that simply changing the gendered composition of a political body will not prevent corruption, and in fact, may encourage different types of corruption such as nepotism or embezzlement used for personal reasons.

Instead, I argue that:
1. Greater representations of women in political bodies will have little to no effect on reducing overall systemic corruption, without a change to the system itself.
2. Political bodies in Illinois and elsewhere should ensure that their government officials are supervised, and are independently audited by outside investigative agencies.
3. A series of checks and balances should be put into place to discover corruption earlier and more often, especially in organizations where public money is transferred between accounts.

With that in mind, here is a look at 20 of the most recent cases involving women who were part of the culture of political corruption in Illinois.

Miriam Santos — 2000
Position: Chicago city treasurer
Crime: Mail fraud, extortion, though the extortion conviction was overturned
Sentence: 40 months in federal prison

Kim Paetschow — 2000
Position: Lisle Park District Director
Crime: Misdemeanor theft
Sentence: 120 hours of community service

Betty Loren-Maltese — 2002
Position: Cicero town president
Crime: Racketeering, wire fraud, mail fraud
Sentence: Eight years in prison

Ellen Shadwick — 2004
Position: Executive director of Batavia Main Street
Crime: Theft
Sentence: Four years of probation

Janet Thomas — 2004
Position: Harvey School District president
Crime: Falsifying documents
Sentence: 180 days in jail

Patricia Bailey — 2005
Position: State representative from the South Side of Chicago, Cook County probation officer
Crime: Perjury and forgery (election fraud)
Sentence: Two years of probation

Louise Morales — 2006
Position: Sauk Village school board president
Crime: Fraud
Sentence: 18 months of probation

Sharon Latiker — 2006
Position: Clerk to Chicago city treasurer
Crime: Cashing bad checks
Sentence: Two years of probation

Louise Brown — 2006
Position: Administrative assistant to Chicago city treasurer
Crime: Cashing bad checks
Sentence: N/A

Sallyanne Bennes — 2007
Position: Lake Villa Parent-Teacher Organization treasurer
Crime: Theft
Sentence: $100 fine, $16,724 restitution, 100 hours of community service

Arenda Troutman — 2008
Position: Chicago 20th Ward alderman
Crime: Bribery
Sentence: Four years in prison

Linda Hudson — 2008
Position: Chicago Park District administrator
Crime: Wire fraud and theft
Sentence: Up to 18 months in prison

Sharon Hyde — 2011
Position: Island Lake director of village-run Creative Playtime Preschool
Crime: Falsifying documents
Sentence: $629 court costs fine

Rita Crundwell — 2012
Position: Dixon city treasurer
Crime: Embezzlement
Sentence: 19 years and seven months in prison

Sara Glashagel — 2012
Position: Antioch teacher
Crime: Computer tampering
Sentence: One year of probation and 80 hours of community service

Sandi Jackson — 2013
Position: Chicago City Council member
Crime: Filing false tax returns
Sentence: One year in prison

Constance Howard — 2013
Position: State representative from Winnebago County
Crime: Mail fraud
Sentence: Up to 20 years in prison, but prosecutors recommended six to 18 months

Gwendolyn Robinson — 2013
Position: Executive director of the Maywood Housing Authority in Chicago
Crime: Theft and official misconduct
Sentence: 10 years in Illinois state prison

Nancy Dobrowski — 2014
Position: Burnham village clerk
Crime: Embezzlement, wire fraud, filing false tax returns
Sentence: 18 months in federal prison

Antoinette Chenier — 2014
Position: Chicago Department of Transportation clerk
Crime: Embezzlement
Sentence: Between three-and-a-half and 15 years in prison

The study dispels the idea that women in government are less prone to corruption or political crime than men, though it names several studies which seem to have shown that. Those studies, says the report, were focused mainly on countries which were not “liberal democracies,” and looking at countries whose political makeups were more like the U.S.’ showed that the presence of women did not have an impact on the incidence of corruption in government:

The major sociological argument behind why women are less corrupt is that women are socialized into systems where they are taught to be other-oriented, service-focused, nurturing, 12 and selfless (Chafetz 1997, Stacey and Thorne 1985).

These ideals are constantly taught to women, and are reinforced through social interactions (West and Zimmerman 1987).

This plays a specific role when politicians consider who they are accountable to; Alt and Lassen (2003) argue that a major factor that determines whether or not an individual will act corruptly is whether they believe it will affect their ability to be reelected.

Therefore, individuals with closer ties to their communities are more worried about engaging in acts that show their connections to their constituents, as is shown when considering racial or ethnic homogeneity as a potential deterrent of corruption (Winters 2012).

If women are socialized to be more caring, nurturing, and other-oriented, then they have more of a vested interest in refraining from acts that the public views as negative. Men, on the other hand, are socialized to “govern from above” and care less about others’, including citizens’, concerns (Alt and Lassen 2003).

However, instead of just stating that this other-orientation will inextricably limit corruption because women care more about others, the social attributes that are taught early and often to women might actually encourage certain types of corruption.

For instance, using qualitative methods, De Graaf and Huberts’ (2008) study points out the differential attributes of women who engage in corruption: notably, the two women they investigated did not commit corrupt acts for financial rewards, but instead out of friendship or love, with one, in the words of a detective who investigated the case, having done so: “because of love for her boyfriend and perhaps a bit out of humanitarian motives. She just fell for the wrong guy who promised her a lot, like a marriage that never came. She never received money for the corrupt acts. Her reward was love, if you can call it that” (De Graaf and Huberts 2008:643).

For this woman at least, this other-orientation led to corruption, as she focused on benefitting a loved one over the public they were elected to serve. While it is irresponsible to claim that cross-culturally women are socialized in the same way that would lead to less corruption (Goetz 2007), ignoring the socialization process of women reifies the idea that women are somehow naturally more moral than men (Lopata and Thorne 1978), and ignores the fact that socialization is a double-edged sword concerning public corruption.

In other words, increasing female representation in public office is less likely to reduce corruption than it is to introduce new types of corruption.

Here’s the full study:
Unsupervised Ensnared Relational and Private- A Typology of Il

Caitlin Wilson is a staff writer for Reboot Illinois. She graduated from Loyola University Chicago, where she studied journalism and political science. Caitlin has become both endeared to and frustrated with her adopted home state and wants to bring Illinoisans the information they need to actively participate in the politics that directly affect them.

Reboot Illinois is a nonpartisan website and social media effort dedicated to involving Illinoisans in the key issues facing our state, including state debt, corruption and waste and improving business and schools.

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