- Editor's note: This is the fourth of a 10-part countdown of articles looking back at the Geneva newsmakers of 2012. The No. 1 newsmaker will be Geneva Patch's 2012 "Person of the Year.
Whether the identification and conviction of former Geneva Streets & Fleets Superintendent Steve LeMaire was among the city's finest hours or its lowest is a matter of interpretation and point of view.
Naysayers contend that it's silly to hand out credit cards to city department heads and not expect some abuse of the privilege. Folks of similar mind suggest that type of trust is emblematic of city government's propensity to let the tail wag the dog, taking city department heads' word as Gospel and advice as public policy.
Proponents of the mayor and City Council don't tout it as such, but an argument could be made that the city system works and LeMaire's conviction is an example of honest, good government at work. A top-level employee was found with his hand in the cookie jar, his activities were reported, the city took quick action and prosecuted the case to the extent of the law.
To recap, when LeMaire went on vacation, his boss, Public Works Superintendent Dan Dinges, reviewed LeMaire's credit card payments on Jan. 11 and saw some that didn't look right. When he investigated further, he found purchases of items that were most likely for LeMaire's personal use.
LeMaire was suspended without pay on Jan. 12, and on Jan. 19, the city issued a press release saying it had launched an internal investigation as well as a police investigation into allegations that LeMaire misappropriated city funds.
on the criminal charges of theft, online theft by deception and official misconduct. The release said LeMaire made more than $24,000 in unauthorized credit card purchases dating as far back as 2004. On Feb. 4, he was dismissed from his position, after serving 33 years with the city's Public Works Department.
LeMaire initially pleaded not guilty, but in July, he agreed to plead guilty to theft, a Class 1 felony, and to repay the more than $28,000 he was found to owe the city. LeMaire was sentenced to two-and-a-half years' probation and 100 hours of community service for the guilty plea.
LeMaire's story goes from "hometown boy makes good" to "hometown boy does bad." But the story also is a confirmation of the honesty of the city's leadership and its department heads, who could have chosen to cover up the street superintendent's tracks, but instead took the high road.
- Seven Essays: Steve LeMaire's Legacy
- Jeff Ward: It Ain't All Steve LeMaire's Fault
- A Predictable Plea Bargain in LeMaire Case
- LeMaire's First Court Appearance Is Wednesday
- State Makes Plea Offer to LeMaire
- QuickStory: LeMaire Officially Fired; City Changing Internal Controls
- LeMaire Pleads Not Guilty to Charges of Theft from City of Geneva
- LeMaire Taken Into Custody; Grand Jury Indicts Him for Theft of City
- LeMaire Pleads Guilty To Theft—Must Repay Stolen Funds To City
- City of Geneva Suspends Streets Superintendent for Alleged Misappropriation of Funds
- COW QuickStory: Mum's the Word on Misappropriation of Funds
- Geneva Newsmakers of 2012—No. 10: Jenny McCarthy
- Geneva Newsmakers of 2012—No. 9: Pam Broviak
- Geneva Newsmakers of 2012—No. 8: Todd Searcy
- Geneva Newsmakers of 2012—No. 7: Steve LeMaire
- Geneva Newsmakers of 2012—No. 6: Kevin Burns
- Geneva Newsmakers of 2012—No. 5: Nicole Wiesner
- Geneva Newsmakers Countdown 2012—No. 4: Joe Stanton
- Geneva Newsmakers Countdown 2012—No. 3: Bob McQuillan
- Geneva Newsmakers Countdown 2012—No. 2: Carol Young
- Geneva Patch Person of the Year 2012: Mark Grosso
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