HR Strange But True!
February 17, 2009

Two brothers have fought for work-related benefits from the city of Chicago, but to know why their cases are HR Strange but True! fodder, you need to know why they no longer work for the city.

One was a lieutenant in the Chicago Fire Department, that is, before he was convicted of arson. The other brother had a city job as well, before he was convicted in a bribery scandal. He had landed that city job even with a previous conviction on his record (for stealing $4 million from the Illinois Toll Highway Authority years earlier).

Only in Second City, says Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass, who calls the two brothers Matches and Quarters.

One brother argues that the city still owes him a pension even though he was sentenced to 6 years in prison (he served less than two before being released) after he admitted setting 8 fires, Kass reports. He claims that no connection exists between his job and his arson conviction, saying that he set the fires while off-duty.

"A mere conviction of a felony is insufficient to justify forfeiture of pension benefits; rather there must be a 'clear and specific connection between the felony committed and the participant's employment,' to justify such a forfeiture," the man’s attorney argues in a lawsuit seeking to reverse a decision by the Firemen's Annuity & Benefit Fund of Chicago to deny a pension to him.

The other brother has also fought with the city over work-related benefits. He argued that he was entitled to workers’ compensation benefits for an injury he says he suffered as a heavy-equipment operator for the city, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.

He was out of work for 6 months. He returned to the job and worked it for about a year when was hit with bribery charges involving the city’s Hired Truck Program, which hired private trucks to do city work. He was later sentenced to 7 years in prison. While serving his sentence, he continued to argue that he was entitled to worker’s compensation.

Of the 26 city workers convicted in the scandal, 12 had filed workers’ compensation claims, the newspaper notes

Sources: Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times

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