Part 3: A modern day ‘David and Goliath’ clash over corrupt practices in the Office of Lake County Coroner — Questionable hiring practices during tenure of Barbara Richardson (1977 – 2003), with an examination of Steve Newton as a Richardson hiree and 2012 Republican Establishment candidate

October 8, 2011

Part one:  “David Cooper’s candidacy is challenged despite stellar qualifications to seek Lake County Office of the Coroner

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

Part three:  “Hiring practices during tenure of Barbara Richardson (1977 – 2003), with an examination of Steve Newton as a Richardson hiree and 2012 Establishment candidate” 
Corruption seems to be of long-standing in the Lake County Coroner’s office and is not only of Republican origin.  Nevertheless it cannot be allowed to fester unchecked, for in time corruption will destroy that which was created to serve the people.
Through research I was able to construct a time-line of questionable hiring of deputy coroners by Barbara Richardson during her tenure as Lake County Coroner (1977 – 2003). 
The following news article has Barbara Richardson admitting that she must do better in her hiring practices.   

In 1995 Barbara Richardson hired Eric Johnson (25) of Winthrop Harbor. He was later indicted on two counts of official misconduct, one for allegedly stealing drugs and the other for unlawful delivery of a controlled substance.  Mr. Johnson “resigned” on December 13, 1996 and was sentenced to eighteen months.  Barbara Richardson refused to comment to the press about the case.

In 1997 Barbara Richardson hired Zeke Locke, Jr. (ASA Lionel Locke) (39) of Zion.  He was indicted on one count of unlawful use of a weapon by a felon and one count of perjury.  Mr. Locke “resigned” in late 1999 and was sentenced early in 2000.  Richardson refused to comment to the press about the case.

In 1999 Barbara Richardson tested and hired 26 year-old Stephen Newton (AKA Steve Newton) of Antioch, from a group of five candidates including David Cooper, but Newton wasn’t brought on board until 2000.  After Barbara Richardson’s hasty resignation as coroner in 2003, Steve Newton was elevated to the position of Chief Deputy Coroner by then coroner, Jim Wipper, appointed by Richardson to serve out her term in the interim. 
During Steve Newton’s tenure as Chief Deputy Coroner the coroner office became unionized by the AFSCME.
Upon the election of Democrat Dr. Richard Keller as Lake County coroner over that of Republican Jim Wipper, Steve Newton remained in his position under Keller.  It was initially suggested to me that Steve Newton was fired from his position as Chief Deputy Coroner by Dr. Keller on April 30, 2007.  This link shows the date Dr. Keller “officially” fired Newton:
Steve Newton’s firing occured close to the same time Keller was being investigated by the Lake County States Attorney’s office for the death of his patient, Steve Vaughn, 30, who died after mixing methadone with Xanax, a dangerous combination. 
Now fast forward just four years and Steve Newton has become the anointed one by Republican insiders to win the office of Lake County Coroner in 2012. 
What is there about Steve Newton’s education and experience that elevates him above the qualifications and preparedness of David Cooper who was engaged in military activity for 8 years as an MP in the United States Army, reaching the rank of sergeant?  Cooper’s education likewise features a B.A. degree with a major in Sociology and a minor in Law Enforcement from Western Illinois University, as well as a Mortuary Science degree from Carl Sandburg College. 
What I found after doing diligent research on Steve Newton’s background was quite unsettling.  Perusing Newton’s website I found unexplained gaps in the time line of Newton’s stated educational and professional achievement.  Impossible to locate on the web were documents to prove that the work required for receive the certifications and educational achievements noted by Steve Newton were actually completed.

Better than 90% of Steve’s listed “accomplishment” are in “blocks” of the 40-hour training that he was required to compete as initial training for the deputy coroner’s position he accepted in 2000.  

The following link describes the “course load” for coroner deputy “trainees” in Lake County.  Compare this with Steve’s accolades and you will find that not only is the training required of newly hired Lake County coroner deputies IDENTICAL to the formal training offered at the St. Louis Medicolegal College at St. Louis University, but that Steve even lists the school in St. Louis redundantly, giving the impression that he HAD the experience, then went to school for the formal training. Steve Newton lists 10 years of firefighter service which would put him at age 17. 

But how would this be possible, even if dismissing Steve’s age, without  the benefit of attending firefighter academy or police academy to qualify for service?

But what proved to be most revealing about Steve Newton’s background is research which led to information pointing to a plausible reason why Steve Newton was fired from his position as Chief Deputy Coroner in April of 2007 by Dr. Richard KelleThe following article describes “coziness” as a possible reason for Newton’s firing.  Do people actually get fired for being “cozy”?  This article appeared on page 4 of the Daily Herald.  It describes the nature of the firing due to an improper “relationship” with a female underling.  Dr. Keller evidently felt justified in firing Newton because of his ”relationship” as Chief Deputy Coroner with a direct subordinate.

Part four, and the final article in my series, will relate what amounts to strong-armed tactics by some in the Lake County Republican Establishment (also known as “The Good Old Boys Club”) to sully David Cooper’s reputation and to take away his livelihood, to clear the way for Steve Newton, a Waukegan “insider,” to run unimpeded for the position of Lake County coroner in November of 2012.

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