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Illinois Tollway Revenue Illegally Used To Balance State Budget On Blagojevich's Watch: Report

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A report released Thursday revealed that tens of millions of dollars of revenue taken in by the Illinois Tollway were illegally diverted to state coffers to help balance the state budget at the direction of then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

The Chicago Tribune reports that between 2003 and 2006, more than $33.6 million of tollway revenue was transferred out of the agency for general state expenses, rather than funding the maintenance and building of highways, as they, by law, are supposed to. The transfers were approved by the state General Assembly.

Tollway Inspector General James Wagner disclosed the transfers in his quarterly report to the state tollway's board.

"Funds transfers of this nature could raise concerns about whether the tollway is fulfilling its fiduciary duty," Wagner wrote of the transfers, the Daily Herald reports.

State Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka blocked the most recent siphoning of funds from the tollway in 2007 because she questioned its legality. Meanwhile, Tollway executive director Kristi Lafleur told the Tribune that such transfers were improper and would not continue under her leadership. Lafleur was selected as the tollway's executive director in 2010.

Earlier this week, the tollway announced that eight employees had either resigned or were fired for pocketing toll money for themselves or otherwise inappropriately using tollway resources since last October, according to the Associated Press. Cheryl Olds, a former tollway employee, pleaded guilty on Monday to swiping $874 worth of tolls between 2009 and 2011, Fox Chicago reported.

Around the Web

Tollway watchdog: $32.6 million went to state improperly in 2003-06

Tollway Funds Improperly Moved under Blagojevich: Report | NBC ...

Blagojevich Administration Siphoned $33.6 Million From Illinois ...

Blagojevich era comes back to haunt tollway - DailyHerald.com

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