SPRINGFIELD – A friend of Secretary of State Jesse White’s claimed during her time as his chief deputy director of securities that she also worked five hours each workday as a home health care provider, an internal investigation found.
Marlene Liss, 36, also falsely claimed to have bachelor’s and master’s degrees, reported a fake address and has used at least nine different names in public records, the report by the secretary of state’s inspector general found.
She was paid $80,000 per year under White, who knew her professionally from a print shop she operated and who was a friend of hers, spokesman Dave Druker said.
Federal prosecutors are investigating the matter, according to the report and a spokeswoman for the Illinois Department of Human Services.
Liss has received payments as a personal care assistant for about 20 years, most recently for helping a blind person in Chicago. She makes $11.65 an hour and claimed she worked from 7 to 9 a.m., 1 to 3 p.m., and 6 to 7 p.m. daily – at least three hours of which, not counting commuting time, overlapped with hours she repeatedly had reported as working for the secretary of state’s office.
She was fired in September when the inspector’s report was finished, but she remains on the Human Services payroll.
“Regardless if any employee knows the secretary or not, unethical conduct will not be tolerated and people in violation will lose their positions as was the case here,” Druker said.
Human Services spokeswoman Januari Smith said she could not comment because of the investigation, which also involves the state police and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Liss does not have a published phone number and could not be contacted.
Liss began working for White in June 2010, according to the inspector general’s report, which was first reported this week by Crain’s Chicago Business. In December 2010, she moved to the securities department, which regulates the securities industry and protects investors.
Using a conservative estimate of three overlapping hours, the inspector general found that White’s office paid Liss for 444 duplicate work hours – when she reported being at both the secretary of state’s office and the health care client’s home – from December 2012 to July 2013.
In addition to her $80,000 salary, state records indicate Liss received $21,000 from Human Services in 2012 and so far this year, $18,400.
When she applied for a secretary of state’s job in June 2010 and later for the chief deputy director’s post, Liss reported receiving bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Loyola University, but the school has no such records.
Employees must also report residential information, but what Liss reported as a Milwaukee Avenue apartment number was actually a rental mailbox in a storefront business.
Investigators also found her Social Security number associated with nine different variations of her name.