SPRINGFIELD | A man paid to inspect carnival rides and ski lifts instead spent time on the job pursuing a side career as a wedding singer, newly released state documents show.
Charles “Chuck” Drager, 62, told his superiors at the Illinois Department of Labor that he inspected rides when he actually was out performing, according to an Executive Inspector General report issued Wednesday.
Drager left his nearly $70,000 per year job on March 31 following an investigation of not only his time sheets, but his claims for tollway expenses he shouldn’t have made. He also violated state ethics laws by failing to report his side gig on his statement of economic interest report.
Among the most serious allegations was that Drager said he inspected a ski lift at a suburban Chicago park district when he actually didn’t.
“This failure to observe a load test is particularly egregious given that as Mr. Drager himself stated, an accident on a ski lift is a major event due to the potential for serious injury of anyone subsequently riding that ski lift,” the report notes.
Drager also falsely claimed to have inspected “moon walks” and other inflatable structures, which are popular at carnivals and children’s birthday parties, the report noted.
“Mr. Drager acknowledged sometimes filling out inspection reports for indoor inflatable units prior to the inspections being completed,” the report notes.
The report alleges Drager also scammed taxpayers by claiming he paid tolls at tollbooths in suburban Chicago when he actually was paying for an I-Pass transponder, which is cheaper. By doing this, he was able to clear an extra $2,850 over seven years.
Based on the findings, the inspector general recommended Drager be fired.
Drager, who was a resident of Lisle when he left his state position, did not immediately return messages left at his singing business.
His website includes a video of him doing vocal impressions of songs by artists including Elvis Presley, Willie Nelson and Frank Sinatra.
Among the venues he has played are senior centers, holiday parties and weddings.