An Oak Park parking enforcement officer fired last October for allegedly taking cash to remove a Denver boot from a motorist’s car was charged last Friday with eight felonies.

Keith Kotero, 36, who lists his address at his parents’ home in Maywood, was charged with seven counts of felony theft and a single account of official misconduct in relation to $5,625 in cash taken from seven individuals to remove immobilization devices from their cars and “non-suit,” or cancel, the tickets.

Kotero is currently in Cook County Jail in lieu of 10 percent of a $27,000 bond awaiting his next court date on Jan. 26. He faces a year in prison on each of the theft charges, and between two and five years on the official misconduct charge.

Kotero was fired after he did not appear at an administrative hearing scheduled following his arrest on Oct. 5. “This behavior gave me no choice other than to terminate employment,” Village Manager Tom Barwin said at the time in a press release.

Police Chief Rick Tanksley said his department initiated an investigation into Kotero’s behavior immediately after his firing. Last month the state’s attorney’s office approved the felony charges against Kotero. Tanksley said police have been seeking Kotero for the past four or five weeks. Several attempts were made, unsuccessfully, to contact Kotero.

But then last week Kotero reportedly had a dispute with an Elmhurst car dealer over the return of one of their automobiles. The dealership apparently believed Kotero had not returned a car, though that belief later proved to be mistaken. Unfortunately for Kotero, the dealership contacted police, which arranged for Kotero to come in Friday for a meeting with them and the dealership to discuss the issue. Police also routinely ran Kotero’s name on their database, when they learned of the Oak Park warrant for his arrest. Elmhurst officers contacted Oak Park, and Kotero was arrested Friday morning when he arrived for the meeting.

As part of its response to Kotero’s alleged misconduct, the village announced an administrative review of the entire Parking Division. As a result of the review, the police department will assume supervision of the parking enforcement operation by May 15.

“I’ve received direction from the village manager that he wants to incorporate parking enforcement and the clerks who oversee vehicle immobilization and tickets into the police department,” Tanksley said.

Barwin said Monday that he and village staff are looking at policies to determine what personnel-if any-should have authority to dismiss tickets.

Tanksley said the job of taking over would require senior police administrators to become familiar with the parking division’s operations.

“We’ve got to learn a lot of details of just how parking service personnel provide those services,” he said.

When the revamp is complete, Tanksley said, there will be no operational connection between personnel who ticket and boot cars and those who collect related fees and fines.

“There won’t be an opportunity for one individual to circumvent the system and be in the position to pocket money,” said Tanksley.

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