Former police commander enters not guilty plea on charge of lying to feds

By Greg Grisolano, Land Line staff writer | Thursday, February 28, 2013

A former Des Plaines, Ill., police commander was charged with one felony count of making false statements about the number of DUI arrests made by the department during a federally funded impaired driving enforcement campaign. He pleaded not guilty to all charges at the arraignment in Illinois District Court on Wednesday, Feb. 27.

Timothy Veit, 55, of Mount Prospect is accused of claiming an additional 122 arrests for driving under the influence. He also provided false results for blood alcohol content levels for the fictitious arrests while the department was participating in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s STEP (Sustained Traffic Enforcement Program) grant from 2009 to 2012.

As a result, the charges allege that Des Plaines fraudulently obtained $132, 893 in federal reimbursement for overtime compensation of its police officers. Viet is not accused of personally benefiting from the funds in question, according to Randall Samborn, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s office in Chicago.

The STEP grants require enforcement campaigns to occur at specific times of day and specific times of year, particularly holidays, when alcohol-involved and unbuckled fatalities are highest.

As part of the agreement between an agency and the grant program, a monthly report is submitted by law enforcement, detailing number of arrests and other enforcement activities related to the program. The grant also comes with a performance objective requiring the recipient to average at least one DUI arrest for every 10 hours of overtime worked by law enforcement on impaired-driving campaigns. The grant money is distributed through the Illinois Department of Transportation.

The charges state that beginning in 2009, IDOT began to receive false data collection forms, which claimed inflated arrest totals. After Veit collected and reviewed accurate information regarding the number of citations, he is alleged to have intentionally inflated the number of DUI arrests and provided false information about blood-alcohol content levels in the reimbursement forms. 

Between 2009 and 2012, a total of 152 DUI arrests were reported during STEP campaigns in Des Plaines, when only 30 actually occurred. The numbers allegedly reported and actually occurring in each year were: 2009 – 27 and 13; 2010 – 47 and 8; 2011 – 62 and 8; and 2012 – 16 and 1.

A 31-year veteran of the Des Plaines police department, Viet reached the rank of commander of the support services division until his retirement last year. He was released on his own recognizance following Wednesday’s arraignment.

“Before retiring, Tim Veit was a good police officer who had the misfortune of being placed in charge of a DUI ticket writing quota system sponsored by the federal government, that was administratively ill-conceived on a number of levels,” Veit’s defense attorney, Anthony Masciopinto, said in an email to Land Line on Wednesday. Masciopinto declined to comment further on any defense or legal strategy.

Making false statements carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000.

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