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Sam Jordan

Other Cook County Theft Exonerations
In October 2011, a grand jury in Cook County, Illinois indicted 60-year-old Sam Jordan on charges of theft and official misconduct for diverting more than $20,000 from the accounts of welfare recipients while he was working for the Illinois Department of Human Services (DHS) in an office on the west side of Chicago.

In November 2013, Jordan went to trial in Cook County Circuit Court and elected to have Cook County Circuit Court Judge Vincent Gaughan hear the case without a jury. The prosecution claimed that between November 1, 2007 and December 31, 2008, Jordan transferred money into the accounts of several aid recipients without their knowledge, and then issued new debit cards that he used to withdraw the money at automated teller machines.

The prosecution also contended that Jordan used the work account of Harold Harris, a co-worker whom he supervised, to transfer the funds to conceal his actions.

Diedre Givens, the supervisor of the office where Jordan worked, testified that each aid recipient was given a “Link” card, which worked as a debit card. Benefits were transferred to the cards in the amounts to which each recipient was entitled.

Givens said that Jordan had the ability to access all DHS computer systems, and had a level of access that allowed him to change passwords of other DHS employees. All transactions had to be done in the office—there was no remote access, Givens said.

All transactions, including the posting of funds to Link cards, were done under an employee’s identification number. The prosecution contended that on days when Harris was absent, Jordan changed Harris’s password and then transferred the funds under Harris’s identification number.

Computer records were entered into evidence showing numerous transactions at or near the $999 limit allowed by DHS to four different aid recipients. The transactions were done under Harris’s identification number. Not long after, the funds were withdrawn at various teller machines in the neighborhood near the DHS office where Jordan worked.

The prosecution argued that Harris was “the perfect fall guy” for Jordan’s scheme because he was “a questionable employee with a spotty work history.”

The defense presented no evidence.

On November 5, 2013, Judge Gaughan convicted Jordan of official misconduct and theft. Gaughan sentenced Jordan to six months in jail and ordered him to make restitution of $21,600.

Jordan served his time in Cook County Jail and was released while his appeal was pending. In March 2018, the Illinois Appellate Court set aside his convictions and ordered the case dismissed due to insufficient evidence.

The court ruled that while the prosecution had failed to present sufficient proof that the transactions actually were performed by Jordan. For instance, while records showed that Jordan’s identification number had been used to change Harris’s password, other records showed that Jordan had reset the passwords of other employees in the office “regularly on other dates as part of his duties. And there were at least three other employees at the…DHS office with such authority.”

The court added, “Moreover, there was no evidence, direct or circumstantial, that defendant was responsible for the withdrawal of the funds.”

On March 13, 2019, Cook County Chief Criminal Court Judge Leroy Martin, Jr. granted Jordan a certificate of innocence. In May 2019, Jordan was granted $25,000 in compensation from the state of Illinois.

– Maurice Possley

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Posting Date: 9/26/2019
Most Serious Crime:Theft
Additional Convictions:Official Misconduct
Reported Crime Date:2008
Sentence:6 months
Age at the date of reported crime:57
Contributing Factors:
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No