Arthur D. Bishop, the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services's (DCFS) new director, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor theft charge back in 1995 for allegedly pocketing money from clients at a West Side mental health center where he had previously worked.
Bishop worked at the Bobby E. Wright Comprehensive Community Mental Health Center from 1986 to 1993. As a substance abuse counselor at the center, Bishop reportedly collected more than $9,000 from patients between May 5, 1992 and July 23, 1993 and did not give the money to the agency.
He had faced a felony theft charge but pleaded guilty to a lesser misdemeanor theft charge in 1995. The Chicago Sun-Times and WBEZ jointly reported that Bishop did not have to pay restitution, but he was was sentenced to a year of conditional discharge.
Bishop was hired on as a case worker at DCFS in 1995 and later became the agency's deputy director. In August 2010, Bishop became director of the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice. Quinn then tapped Bishop to head DCFS last year following the death of the agency's former director Richard H. Calica, who died of cancer in December.
While previously serving as DCFS's deputy director in 2003, Bishop was also tangled up in a paternity case, records show. Yolanda O’Connor filed a paternity case against Bishop in 2003, claiming that he was the father of her daughter Erica Bishop, who was 17 at the time. Bishop maintained that he had never met Erica and that he was unaware O'Connor believed he was her father until the paternity case was filed.
O'Connor was seeking back child support, but a judge denied that request. Instead, O'Connor received a $4,175 judgment. The deal also included health care coverage for Erica until she turned 18, according to the two news organizations.
Karen Hawkins, a DCFS spokeswoman, said the agency believes "it’s inappropriate to raise decades-old issues that have long been resolved and have nothing to do with his performance as director.”
DCFS has come under scrutiny following investigative reports from the Sun-Times and WBEZ that raised concerns about child-abuse and neglect death cases in the state.
Quinn's press secretary Brooke Anderson noted that the governor appointed Bishop "because of his decades of excellent work and respected leadership at the Departments of Juvenile Justice and Children and Family Services.”
“The governor feels he has the right experience to lead this very difficult agency,” Anderson added.
Click through for the full report from the Sun-Times and WBEZ.