A city employee who investigated misconduct allegations against Chicago police was forced to resign for improperly accessing investigative records on cops she knew and for falsely reporting that a co-worker planned a mass shooting at work, a report by the city’s inspector general revealed Tuesday.
The report by the office of Chicago Inspector General Joseph Ferguson did not name the employee, but Alison Yohanna was later criminally charged by Cook County prosecutors in connection with the alleged false report.
Yohanna, 35, accessed the records of her brother, boyfriend and some of the boyfriend’s relatives — all Chicago cops — almost 70 times while working as an investigator for the Civilian Office of Police Accountability, Ferguson’s office said.
The report did not explain the purpose behind Yohanna’s searches but said she also failed to reveal to COPA the personal ties to the officers that posed a conflict of interest for her investigative post.
While under investigation by Ferguson’s office, Yohanna anonymously sent a complaint to the IG from work, falsely accusing a co-worker she suspected of cooperating against her of plotting the mass shooting, the report said.
Prosecutors later indicted her on felony charges of official misconduct and false reporting of a crime for the December incident.
The false report prompted police, SWAT and tactical officers to swarm COPA offices and evacuate the building, prosecutors said. The phony email came back to Yohanna’s work computer, prosecutors said, and she admitted sending the email.
During her bond hearing in January, Yohanna’s lawyer, Robert Pervan, said in court that his client sent the email out of an “abundance of caution.”
“It wasn’t done with any malicious intent,’’ Pervan told Judge Stephanie Miller.
Yohanna remains free on $10,000 bail while awaiting trial.
On the recommendation of Ferguson’s office, COPA fired Yohanna. After she appealed her dismissal, the city settled the appeal by letting Yohanna resign instead, according to the report. She was also designated as ineligible for rehire by the city.
Speaking to reporters Tuesday from a mayor’s conference in New York, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said she hadn’t yet discussed the matter with COPA Chief Administrator Sydney Roberts but called the allegations “disturbing.”
“Look, it raises questions that have to be addressed, not only about the individual but also about the policies and practices that are in place that would allow this kind of access seemingly unchecked,” she said. “So there’s work to be done, and I will be dealing with Sydney and her team to address them once I’ve had an opportunity to read in more detail the IG’s report.”
JEREMY GORNER, “Police misconduct investigator forced out after accessing cops’ investigative records”, https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/criminal-justice/ct-copa-investigator-forced-out-20190716-bwpqh2t4lrdetmlcochzszakxq-story.html