Retired radio engineer John Valenta was arrested Thursday after being charged with stealing more than $200,000 from WDCB 90.9 FM, a professionally run jazz station largely supported by tax dollars and listener donations.
Authorities allege that while working at the station, Valenta, 65, submitted phony invoices from his side business between June 2006 and December 2013 for materials the school never received and work he never performed. If convicted, he faces up to 15 years in prison.
Valenta’s arrest came hours after a front-page Chicago Tribune report that Valenta billed the Glen Ellyn-based community college for more than $400,000 from his private company, Broadcast Technologies — including at least $90,000 for radio transmitter parts that were never installed, according to school records. He repeatedly cited power failures as the reason for much of the repair work, but ComEd tests never detected a problem, documents show.
Valenta retired from the station last February, shortly before the college’s auditor issued a scathing internal report accusing the radio engineer of violating school policies by personally approving fake invoices. The auditor also questioned whether Valenta deserved much of his overtime pay.
Valenta, who was making $74,000 a year when he retired, currently receives about $51,000 a year from the state pension system.
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