Friday, July 13, 2012

Forging Birth Certificates Is The Chicago Way

There is a fascinating story out of Chicago today about the arrest of the former head of Cook County's job-training program by federal agents for forging birth certificates and other documents. According to the criminal complaint and affidavit prepared by an agent of the Inspector General's Office of the U.S. Department of Labor, Brendolyn Hart-Glover directed employees of her agency to forge documents to complete missing files in order to avoid the loss of federal funding for the agency's job-training program.

The Cook County President's Office of Employment Training ("POET") under Hart-Glover's leadership had responsibility for administering a summer jobs program that was funded with federal grant money. The U.S. Department of Labor's Employment Training Administration administers the federal grant program that funded POET's job-training programs under the Workforce Investment Act of 1998. POET was required to maintain documents to prove that the youth who participated in the jobs program were eligible participants, which included: proof that a youth is eligible to work in the U.S.; is registered for Selective Service; is within the applicable age range; has income below a specified threshold; and has a barrier to employment. According to the affidavit supporting the criminal complaint against Hart-Glover, a typical case file includes the applicant's birth certificate and a printout from the Selective Service System's website establishing a person's registration.

The POET program had been marred with problems for years. Past audits resulted in the program having to return $8.4 million to the feds over a 5-year period and being placed on "high risk" status of losing its funding altogether. The agency received $5.6 million in 2009 under President Obama's federal stimulus spending plan, which the agency used to establish its summer youth program for about 1,400 youths. Federal monitoring of the program the first year uncovered the fact that the files were missing for many of the youths participating in the summer jobs program. The program was going to be forced to reimburse the feds about $1.4 million due to the lack of documentation. When POET's employees were unable to recover the missing files, Hart-Glover issued an ultimatum to them that "it is not an option for you not to have your Summer Youth files." Hart-Glover then instructed her employees to recreate the missing files, including birth certificates. She told the employees "we are going to have to make it up," which they interpreted to mean forging documents. This had to be done or "no one would have a job" she told her employees. So how did they forge the birth certificates? This is what the affidavit says:
The forged birth certificates were created by altering information on copies of actual birth certificates. Using either a typewriter or a computer, slips of paper containing the participant’s information (for example, the participant’s name, date of birth and parents’ names) were created, which were then placed on top of a xeroxed copy of an actual birth certificate. Next, a xeroxed copy was made with the inserts placed over the true information on the birth certificate, resulting in the forged document. According to CW-2, during the week leading up to August 21, 2010, HART-GLOVER provided CW-2 with a stack of blank birth certificates to be used on August 21, 2010. According to CW-6, CW-6 forged birth certificates in the presence of Hart-Glover.
The affidavit doesn't tell us where Hart-Glover obtained the "stack of blank birth certificates." It does tell us that the employees wound up just using existing birth certificates and inserted new data over xeroxed copies of the existing birth certificates to recreate a missing birth certificate. Other missing documents were similarly forged or altered to provide the missing information. According to the affidavit, some of the employees complained about having to forge documents but were told that was what would have to be done unless they "can find another way." Federal investigators had the Director of the Bureau of Vital Statistics for Cook County to review some of the birth certificates to determine whether they were genuine, and he determined there were 31 forged birth certificates among the files.
The Bureau of Vital Statistics’ conclusions were based on various irregularities, but the most common irregularity identified was that the registration number on the birth certificate either did not exist or was associated with another individual. Affiant has also reviewed the birth certificates included in these files and observed that multiple birth certificates appear to have been altered, based on multiple irregularities, including the following: (a) the certificates have text with different font sizes and types; (b) multiple certificates have the same certificate number, which is supposed to be a number unique to each certificate; and (c) several applications reflected a mother’s name that was not the same as the mother’s name listed on the birth certificate.
So yes, birth certificates are forged all the time and are even forged by government employees. Maricopa Co. Sheriff Joe Arpaio's Cold Case Posse earlier this year charged its investigation had determined that the long-form birth certificate produced by the White House last year to prove Barack Obama's birth in Hawaii was a forgery. Arpaio's investigators also charged that Obama's Selective Service registration record had been forged, and that Obama used a social security number that was originally issued to a Connecticut man who is no longer living. It's encouraging to see that at least one agency of the federal government is capable of investigating and determining whether a birth certificate has been forged. Isn't it time that the FBI opened up an investigation into the allegations that the White House produced a forged birth certificate to prove the President's birth in the U.S.?

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