Part 2: A modern day ‘David and Goliath’ clash over corrupt practices in the Office of Lake County Coroner: “Documented events give credence to corruption of long-standing in Lake County Office of the Coroner”

October 6, 2011

Four-part series: A modern day ‘David and Goliath’ clash over corrupt practices in the Office of Lake County Coroner

Part one:  “David Cooper’s candidacy is challenged despite stellar qualifiications to seek Lake County Coroner position”

Part two:  “Documented events give credence to corruption of long-standing in Lake County Office of the Coroner”

In beginning Part two, I wish to once again emphasize that it not my intent to point fingers at individuals or to even scores with those whose actions, both past and present, seemingly reach far beyond lacking good judgment; nevertheless, facts do not lie.  To engage in a coverup, knowing the facts as I do, would relegate me to the same status as those Republicans who prefer to circle the wagon in their denial of the facts. 
Corruption is of long-standing in the Lake County Coroner Office.  It’s not only of Republican-making, but it also encompassed the office and caused the resignation of Dr. Richard Keller’s, elected to office as a Democrat in 2004. 
In April of 1999, David Cooper was selected as one of five candidates chosen to be interviewed for a deputy coroner position.  Appearing in front of a Roundtable of Coroner’s Deputies and the Chief Deputy Corner, David’s curiosity was raised when one of the board members, Deputy “Zeke” Locke Jr. (AKA Lionel Locke) — serving as a deputy coroner at the time under Lake County Coroner Barbara Richardson — kept pummeling David with questions relating to his service as an MP in the Army reserve.A red flag was raised in David’s mind when Zeke Locke seemed to know more than David did, even though David was serving as an MP in the army.  Looke was later arrested as a fugitive from justice, when revealed that he had been investigated and dishonorably discharged for an infraction committed while serving in the Army.  In that Looke’s own criminal investigation had been conducted by Military Police, enabled Looke to quiz David as knowledgeably as did about Davd’s role as an MP.
Two question demand answers:  1) What made Locke a fugitive from the law in the state of Georgia? and 2) How did Looke manage to arrive in Lake County, IL from Georgia to seek and to be hired as a deuty coroner by coroner Barbara Richardson?
The facts:  When hired by Coroner Barbara Richardson as a deputy coroner, Locke was no longer in the Army from which he had been dishonorably discharged in 1981.  Zeke Locke, however, had an outstanding warrant for a 1987 felony theft conviction in Georgia and was forbidden to leave the state.  Having traveled to Illinois to apply for a deputy coroner position in Lake County, IL, Locke became a fugitive from the law.  Zeck Locke further used the identity of his father in applying for a Lake County deputy coroner position.  Authorities caught up with Zeke Locke in 2000.  He was arrested as a fugitive from justice and was sentenced to three and a half years in prison for probation violation. The following article explains some of the circumstances that led to Locke’sindictment.
Armed with information that  David Cooper had been rejected in 1999 when applying for a deputy coroner position in Barbara Richardson’s Office, I asked David Cooper how Locke could have been hired in the first place?  Did Locke meet the qualifications David had to meet when applying and upon which David was ultimately judged, that of Experience, *Training, Interview and Test Results? 
*In reference to Training as a qualification when applying for a position as a deputy coroner in Lake County, I was informed by David Cooper that training is not essential to apply or to be accepted as a deputy coroner in Lake County.  When hired, the deputy is sent to college to receive medico-legal training on firearm forensics, blood splatter, and on other subjects related to how death occurs. Training consists of a 40-hour, five-day course at Saint Louis University School of Medicine, the Medicolegal Death Investigator Training Course (MLDIC).
Following is the 1999 rejection letter link David Cooper received from Coroner Barbara Richardson:
After Locke was arrested as a fugitive from justice, Barbara Richardson, under considerable scrutiny, “retired” from office in 2003 near the end of her second term.  Richardson appointed Chief Deputy James Wipper to finish out her term as interim coroner.
Corruption likewise erupted under the Democratic administration of Dr. Richard Keller, who was elected in 2004 (and re-elected in 2008) to replace Republican Jim Wipper, Barbara Richardson’s replacement. 
It was an attempted cover-up by Dr. Keller that forced him to resign from office while serving his second four-year term in office (Artis Yancey, a Democrat and former Police Chief of Waukegan, IL, was appointed as interim coroner to replace Dr. Keller and is presently serving as Lake County coroner.  Yancy is expected to run in 2012 for the Office of the coroner in Lake County as the incumbent.).
Dr. Keller’s corruption involved a position he held in tandem with his elected position as Lake County coroner.  Keller was the Medical Director at the Green Dragonfly Clinic in Waukegan, a facility for treating drug abuse.  One of Dr. Keller’s patients, 30 years old at the time, died of a drug overdose.  In that Dr. Keller took charge of investigating the death of his own patient and attempted a cover-up of the facts, resulted in Keller’s resignation as coroner on August 17, 2009. 
This link describes some of the some of the facts that brought about Dr. Keller’s indictment and resignation:
Following Dr. Keller’s resignation, three individuals were selected to investigate and offer guidance to the Office of the Lake County Coroner:  Mark Curran, now Lake County Sheriff; David Stolman, now Lake County Board Chair; and Barbara Richardson, Lake County Coroner from 1977 to 2003.
Uncovered by Curran, Stolman, and Richardson were stashes of human remains (bones) which should have been disposed of through burial or cremation and personal effects never returned to families of the deceased.
Part three will document questionable deputy hiring by Barbara Richardson during her tenure in office and will also examine Steven Newton, the present status quo choice candidate of Republican insiders.

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