Friday, June 24, 2011

As Gery Chico distances himself from tainted Save-A-Life Foundation, past/present IL pols & a TV journalist send Facebook birthday greetings to SALF's founder/president

Yesterday and the day before, a batch of Illinois news stories reported that Gery Chico's nomination as superintendent of the Illinois State Board of Education had been stalled. Here's the skinny via the Chicago Sun-Times:
Former Chicago mayoral candidate Gery Chico’s appointment as chairman of the state Board of Education hit a snag Wednesday amid GOP questions over his ties to a now-defunct non-profit organization.
...Senate Republicans put the brakes on Quinn’s appointment, asking that Chico personally appear before a Senate panel to explain his relationship with Save A Life Foundation, a charity that is undergoing a probe within Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office.
...Chico noted that “most of Illinois’ political establishment” embraced the group, which received government grants to teach the Heimlich maneuver and CPR. Questions have surfaced in published reports about whether the millions of taxpayer dollars to train children in emergency response were spent properly.

“As far as any kind of allegation of wrongdoing, if they committed any wrongdoing, they should be held accountable,” he said.
Chico might be distancing himself because of revelations like these from Where Did the Save-A-Life Money Go? by Don Bauder, published last November in the San Diego Reader:
(Carol) Spizzirri was a darling of politicians and bureaucrats, although it was a matter of record that she had been convicted twice for shoplifting. Save-A-Life began raking in money from government grants. 
...But it wasn’t until November of 2006 that ABC 7 News in Chicago, in the first of several broadcasts, exposed more of Spizzirri’s untruthful statements. She had told the station that she was a registered nurse. But the station reported that the institution from which she had claimed to receive her nursing degree had never given her one. A hospital in which she had claimed to be a transplant nurse said she had been a patient care assistant, which is akin to a candy striper.
...(Spizzirri's daughter) Christina filed for an order of protection against her mother. A neighbor who lives four houses away was willing to be Christina’s primary caretaker. The complaint stated that Spizzirri had struck Christina “on several occasions and threatened her on many occasions.” The order of protection, granted the same month, barred Spizzirri from seeing her daughter at several locations such as school and work. Christina “fears her mother will attempt to harass her or retaliate,” said the complaint.
But, along with scores of personal friends who sent Facebook birthday wishes to Spizzirri yesterday, these past and present members of Illinois's political establishment remain loyal.

Illinois State Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka

Illinois State Rep Richard Morthland (R), 71st District

 Illinois Farm Bureau Manager, Blake E. Roderick 

Former Illinois State Rep. Debbie Halvorson

Former Illinois State Rep. Walter Dudycz (who helped SALF buy a building in Springfield with a $200,000 state grant) even sang her a song.

Here's Bill Sarto, ex-mayor of Carpentersville, IL, whose fire chief threatened Spizzirri with legal action after Sarto initiated a partnership with SALF that left the city holding the bag for thousands of dollars.

Stephanie Kifowit, Alderman, City of Aurora, IL

Spizzirri also still has friends in the media like Terry Martin, Executive Director of the Illinois Channel (the Prairie State's version of C-SPAN).

Here's a curious interview Martin did with Spizzirri in May 2009, in which she says she's working on pending legislation with Il Attorney General Lisa Madigan and Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez (3:30)

It's not known if Spizzirri's business partner and second-in-command at SALF, former Palatine, IL mayor Rita Mullins, sent her birthday greetings. But from better days, before their organization was under state and federal investigation, here's a cheeky photo from Spizzirri's Facebook of Walter Dudycz with the leading ladies of the Save-A-Life Foundation.

6/23/11 Facebook birthday greetings to Carol Spizzirri

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Mommy's Dearest: former Save-A-Life Public Relations Director Ciprina Spizzirri - a graphic (and oral) family history

Ciprina J. Spizzirri, Carol J. Spizzirri (circa 2008)
According to press releases from 2003-2005, Ciprina Spizzirri was Director of Media & Public Relations for the Save-A-Life Foundation (SALF), the embattled Chicago-area first aid training nonprofit founded by her mother Carol J. Spizzirri. (SALF's now under investigation by the IL Attorney General and by the CDC.)

Mama Spizzirri's powers of persuasion were potent enough to convince government agencies to hand over close to $9 million to her organization (which even managed to become a member organization of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security). It was daughter Ciprina's job to spread the word.

The last call bell rang when mom got busted in a November 2006 ABC Chicago I-Team report for these slices of baloney SALF used to beef up donations: pretending to be a Registered Nurse, fabricating a college degree, and falsely claiming that another of her daughters - Ciprina's older sister, the late Christina Jean Pratt - had bled to death as the result of being the victim of a hit & run car crash on Labor Day 1992.

Per this clip, there was no hit & run. Drunk at the wheel, Christina's tragic death was the result of severe injuries in a single car rollover.

One learns more about the Spizzirri household from Where Did the Save-A-Life Money Go? by Don Bauder, San Diego Reader, November 17, 2010:
May 18, 1992 - four months before the fatal (car) accident - Christina filed for an order of protection against her mother. A neighbor who lives four houses away was willing to be Christina's primary caretaker. The complaint stated that Spizzirri had struck Christina "on several occasions and threatened her on many occasions." The order of protection, granted the same month, barred Spizzirri from seeing her daughter at several locations such as school and work. Christina "fears her mother will attempt to harass her or retaliate," said the complaint. Spizzirri asserted, among other things, that she could use "reasonable force to discipline a child" who needed medical attention. In July, Spizzirri got Christina back - two months before she was killed.
Christina’s filing for protection may have been triggered by an incident on May 4, 1992, when, Lake County Circuit Court records show, Spizzirri complained that her daughter damaged a curio cabinet in the household and did physical damage to a second daughter. Christina was placed on $20,000 bail and charged with a misdemeanor.
Christina’s father, Gordon Pratt of Milwaukee, who divorced Spizzirri in 1981, says that Spizzirri had been out drinking that May evening with the other daughter and came home at 2:00 a.m. Christina, who was underage, had also been drinking and came home later. “There was a dispute and it escalated into a physical confrontation,” he says, relating a phone call he received from Christina. Soon, both Spizzirri and the other daughter were hitting Christina, who fought back, says Pratt. She shoved the curio cabinet in trying to get out the door.
Ten years after that maternal slugfest, Ciprina went to work for SALF where, among other responsibilities, she circulated the spurious version of her sister's death.  

For example, check out this 2003 letter to the editor published in USA Today.

Here's a mother/daughter tag team interview (circa 2003) in which Ciprina obediently listens while her mother spews steaming piles of bushwa - that she's a renal transplant nurse, that the car accident was a hit & run, that Christina bled to death, and that she didn't even have any broken bones. (1:00)

Ciprina then beams and in a beatific voice says: "I'm just so proud that I was blessed to have her as my mom." (6:00)

From the October 29, 1992 Lake County, IL Coroner's Inquest on the body of Christina J. Pratt:

Want more? La Familia Spizzirri does the same routine in this undated interview on a local cable show. 

Circulating phony stories about the death of your sibling has its rewards, albeit puny. Based the images below, Ciprina was paid a modest salary, received travel perks, and enjoyed the company of elderly physicians.

Dane Neal of SALF, Dr. Henry J. Heimlich, Ciprina Spizzirri, Carol Spizzirri at the White House (2005)

Here's Ciprina's tear-stained tribute to the late Peter Safar MD who was 79 when he died.

SALF has since folded and Ciprina Spizzirri has taken her talents elsewhere.

More recently she was interviewed for Lesbian Knows Best, "a talk show hosted by nationally known comedian Vicki Wagner."

If you've always wanted to watch a former executive of a United States Department of Homeland Security organization describe how she gives blow jobs, here's your opportunity.

Monday, March 28, 2011

SALF's Year of Zeros: Did the CDC executive who moonlighted as Save-A-Life's treasurer submit false information in a sworn report to the IL Attorney General?

As reported last October by The Hill, Douglas R. Browne was corporate treasurer of the Save-A-Life Foundation (SALF) from 2004-2009, when the Chicago-area nonprofit went belly up. That was a side gig for Browne. His full-time job has been working for 25+ years at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta where he's now a Deputy Director.

Re: Browne's relationship with SALF, according to this November letter, the Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services has referred concerns about "potential misconduct" to the CDC for "further review and appropriate administrative action."

The "further review" may include questions about what happened to the $3.33 million awarded to SALF by the CDC. They may also be asking about Browne's signatures on SALF's AG990-IL reports. That's the financial report Illinois charities are required to submit each year to the Attorney General's Charitable Trust Bureau (CTB).

SALF has been under investigation by the CTB since last July. Unreported is that SALF's most recently-submitted AG990-IL triggered the investigation. CTB accountant Trudy Motyka rejected it as "incomplete."

Here's a series of demand letters sent over the months from Ms. Motyka to SALF founder/president Carol Spizzirri requesting missing financial records. (These letters are the most recent available documents associated with the investigation. Until that's completed, the barn door on FOIA requests has been shut as provided by IL state public records law.)

Calling the AG990-IL "incomplete" is something of an understatement. In fact, it's completely zeroed-out.

Whoever signed the report - presumably SALF founder/president Carol Spizzirri and Browne (whose names and signatures are on the sworn document) - claims SALF had no income or expenses from July 1, 2008 through June 30, 2009. Not a penny earned nor spent during 12 months, a period which shall herein be deemed SALF's Year of Zeros.

Here are but a few contradictory records.

An October 11, 2009 Chicago Tribune article reported, "(Carol) Spizzirri, 63, has quietly closed the foundation's headquarters in Schiller Park." Sounds like the description of a recent event, doesn't it?

Here's a snip from an independent auditor's report that accompanied SALF's previous AG990-IL for FY07/08, also a sworn document, also signed by Spizzirri and Browne, and also signed by SALF's accountant, Steven D. Garrels.

If you don't have your reading glasses, it says SALF signed a non-cancelable lease for their Schiller Park offices for the year ending June 30, 2009 (the last day of the Year of Zeros) agreeing to pay a total of $33,030 "paid in monthly installments of $2,753." Some might consider rent to be what professionals in the financial industry refer to as "an expense."

Before moving on, please note the last sentence: "Rent expense was $278,914 for the year ended June 30, 2008." That comes to...wait a second, let me get my calculator...divide by 12 and...WTF??? $23,242 per month one year, then $2,753 per month the next??? (Don't ask me, I'm lousy with numbers. Try CPA Steven D. Garrels.)

Since SALF apparently paid $33,030 rent during their Year of Zeros, the company may also have had phone service, utilities, and other common office expenses including salaries and employment taxes for employees and members of the board.

For instance, here's a screen shot from the minutes of a 2007 meeting of SALF's corporate board, in which Treasurer Browne and Corporate Secretary Rita Mullins motion and second $40,000 salaries for one another:  

In a May 9, 2007 article about a defamation lawsuit filed by her organization, Mullins told the Daily Herald reporter : "I know (SALF) to be a very well-run organization.”  

What about legal fees to pursue their lawsuit? According to news reports and this Harvard Law web site that tracks Internet free speech cases, the case was active through the Year of Zeros and beyond. Unless SALF's attorney was working pro bono, that sounds like an expense.

What about travel expenses, like this trip to the White House, extended to SALF as a valued member organization of FEMA, and attended by Corporate Secretary Mullins?

How 'bout income? Per this screen shot, SALF was soliciting donations for a September 19, 2009 fundraiser, waaaayyy past Day One of the Year of Zeros which was July 1, 2008. According to the YofZ AG990-IL with Spizzirri's and Browne's signatures, their organization didn't raise a cent from this event or from any other income sources - not even interest from money in their bank account(s).

That weird squirrel/rat character was SALF's mascot, "Perry Medic." Ha, ha, get it? Probably paid for with your tax dollars. Maybe not so funny. 

Also SALF must have incurred expenses designing and uploading this solicitation page for the 5K Perry Medic Rat Race and co-hosting the September 19, 2009 event with Anderson Hospital in Maryville, IL. SALF also had to pay for their website in Year Zero. At this writing, someone still owns their domain. Avast me hearties, another expense!

What are the potential consequences for providing false information on an AG990-IL? According to a representative of the AG's office, this amounts to perjury which falls under Illinois criminal statute 720 ILCS 5/32-2, making it a class 3 felony, punishable by up to three years in prison and up to a $25,000 fine. Presumably those who signed documents with false information might be held accountable.

Here's a screen shot from the bottom of page 2 of SALF's Year of Zeros AG990-IL:

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Clown time is over? Fraud whistleblower asks Ronald McDonald House Charities to investigate what happened to $125,000 awarded to Save-A-Life for phantom Chicago Schools program and why records were "prematurely destroyed"

Chicago Schools CEO Arne Duncan, unknown woman, SALF founder/president Carol J. Spizzirri, and Ronald McDonald, January 12, 2005. According to a recent San Diego Reader article, Duncan called Spizzirri - a twice-convicted shoplifter who fabricated medical and college credentials and whose late daughter took out a protective order against her - "one of my heroes."

In a January 5 letter to the Inspector General of the Chicago Public Schools (CPS), fraud whistleblower Peter Heimlich requested an investigation into what happened to $62,000 paid to the Save-A-Life Foundation (SALF) to provide first aid training to students.

The lion's share was $49,000 arranged and signed off by then Schools CEO Arne Duncan for a matching grants program with Ronald McDonald House Charities in which SALF was contracted to train 18,000 students over two school years. (For years, Duncan was close to SALF and even appeared as an animated pitchman on SALF's website.)

The problem - for CPS and for Duncan, now Secretary of Education - is that the training may never have happened.

Yesterday the problem landed on the desk of Martin J. "Marty" Coyne, president and CEO of Ronald McDonald House Charities via another investigations request letter from Heimlich. The opening paragraphs:
This letter is to request that your company initiate a review to determine if $125,000 awarded to the Save A Life Foundation Inc. by Ronald McDonald House Charities and by Ronald McDonald House Charities of Chicagoland & Northwest Indiana was properly administered.

Further, this is to request a review to determine if the destruction of related financial and other records, confirmed in an e-mail sent last year by Doug Porter, CEO of Ronald McDonald House Charities of Chicagoland & Northwest Indiana, was premature and constitutes a violation of Ronald McDonald House Charities’ Records Management Policy.

If such reviews are conducted by your company, this is to request that upon completion all relevant documents and findings be made available for public inspection.
Here's Heimlich's letter on Scribd. Click here to download a copy.
Heimlich asks McDonald's House to review $125K Save-A-Life grants, destroyed files (+receipt conf.)

Here's a highlight:
(In a) July 4, 2010 e-mail, Doug Porter, CEO of Ronald McDonald House Charities of Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana wrote:

I’m sorry to report that those records being 6+ years old have been destroyed. We do not have any files left on this grant and given that we had turned down any future requests, never in a million years did I think they would ever be relevant again. But again, the records that you had (we discussed) seemed to be accurate. That $37,500 from our local chapter (matched by global) in 2004 was the only one I recall.

This appears to be a clear violation of the records retention guidelines as stated in Ronald McDonald House Charities’ Records Management Policy
Grant Administration - Administration of donations made by RMHC to other organizations - including applications and agreements. While Active + 10 years thereafter
McDonalds Charities Chicagoland CEO confirms $37,500 payment to Save-A-Life Foundation; records destroyed


What about Mickey D customers debating whether or not they should drop the change from their Happy Meals into the donation can next to the cash register?
(Past) and potential future donors to Ronald McDonald House Charities may harbor concerns as to whether their donations have been or will be properly administered. Given the uncertainties associated with the administration of the $125,000 RMHC awarded to SALF and what appears to be the premature destruction of related financial records, donors may harbor concerns regarding whether RMHC employees properly administered those funds. Donors may also harbor concerns regarding RMHC employees' relationships with SALF.
So how to determine how many Chicago Schools students received SALF first aid training courtesy of the $125,000 from RMHC?

Heimlich's letter offers this helpful suggestion with names of some folks who may not be lovin' it:
Should your company wish to locate that information, you may wish to contact members of SALF's 2009 executive board; former SALF employees Sid Blustain and Dane Neal, both named in SALF's October 14, 2004 press release about the CPS training program; and Saquan Gholar who, according to CPS records, was SALF's “Education Training Coordinator” for the program. Please find attached a list with contact information for these individuals.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Huffington Post: Chicago mayoral candidate Gery Chico says SALF lied about him, but ignores questions about investigations, potential perjury charges

Last week the Huffington Post finally pried a response from the seemingly bashful Chicago mayoral candidate Gery Chico about his ties to the Save-A-Life Foundation (SALF), the "shady nonprofit" now reportedly under investigation by the Illinois Attorney General's Charitable Trust Bureau.

In Gery Chico Save A Life Foundation Connection: What Was His Role At Troubled Charity? by reporter Will Guzzardi, Chico was asked some of the same questions blogger Lee Cary has been asking him for months.

Since November, Chico and his media rep Brooke Anderson have been dodging Cary, but somehow found time to respond to the HuffPost. To be precise, they responded to one question and ignored others.

This dodge 'em is a far cry from earlier times when Chico - who Chicago Public Radio calls "the ultimate insider" - apparently couldn't say enough about the organization. For example, when he was president of the Board of Education, he "was instrumental in bringing SALF to the Chicago Public Schools." So says his wife Sunny, who served on SALF's Educational Advisory Board.

Check out this weird 1999 presentation to the school board by SALF founder/president Carol J. Spizzirri, reportedly a twice-convicted shoplifter who fabricated medical and educational credentials for herself. Chico and fellow board members Paul Vallas and Dr. Tariq Butt were so deeply moved by her stream of consciousness rap ("Children come into this world very greedy. They want to be fed, they want their diapers changed"), they rolled out the red carpet for her organization.

Don't miss Chico's enthusiastic response to her performance starting at around the 4:00 mark and culminating with, "I don't think we can afford to do anything but do this (SALF program)."

Four years later Chico and the missus were still on board:
Arne Duncan, Gery & Sunny Chico appear at 2003 Save-A-Life Foundation annual conference

"Stating that he will fight for the SALF programs, Mr. Chico said the training is not a luxury -- but a necessity."
And here's an interview show with Chico sharing a couch with Spizzirri and trumpeting his wholehearted support for SALF, circa 2003:

That was then. More recently, when it comes to SALF, he and Mrs. C have been playing hide and seek.

The Huffington Post wanted to know about SALF's claims that Chico had been a member of the organization's Board of Directors, published in an Annual Report...

...and on SALF's website:

Here's the takeaway from the HuffPo story:
A 1999 resolution signed by Gery Chico, then the president of the Chicago School Reform Board of Trustees, certified that Save A Life had trained 10,000 students in the city, and was training another 23,000 that year through volunteer programs.
...When asked about Chico's involvement with the foundation, campaign spokeswoman Brooke Anderson flatly denied his involvement. "Gery wasn't on this board," she said. When presented with page 53 of the above document, Anderson responded, "That link you sent is wrong. Gery was not on that board."
According to Maura Possley, the deputy press secretary for the Illinois Attorney General's Office, a nonprofit misrepresenting the makeup of its board of directors in an annual report would be perjury, a Class 3 felony.
The Huffington Post asked the Chico campaign if it was willing to accuse Save A Life of perjury, and if so, whether it would be willing to publicly call for an investigation into the matter. So far, his campaign has not responded on that question, despite several further attempts at contact.
...It is unclear at this point why Chico would deny he was on the board, or, if indeed he was not, why he would be unwilling to press for further investigation given his forceful campaigning on ethics reform.
It's not enough that he's promising ethics reform? He's supposed to take action, too?

Sheesh, talk about your elevated expectations.

Just because Chico and his wife were involved for years with a charity that received $62,000 in unaccounted-for money from the schools and millions more from IL taxpayers, and is now under state investigation, and which may have have committed perjury by falsely claiming he was on their Board of Directors, what do you expect him to do? Write letters to oversight agencies requesting investigations?

Tomorrow Chicago voters will decide if Gery Chico - who promises "more openness, transparency and accountability in city government," meanwhile scuttling away from this opportunity to walk his talk - is fit to be their new mayor.

Elevated expectations indeed.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Since her husband Gery is apparently hiding, Lee Cary asks Sunny Chico about her ties to SALF

Click here for source document, April 24, 2003 SALF press release

Sent via e-mail to and faxed to (312)306-9997

February 7, 2011

Sunny Chico, President
SPC Consulting, LLC
737 N. Michigan Avenue
Chicago, IL 60611

Dear Ms. Chico,

Last year I wrote a string of articles about the Save-A-Life Foundation (SALF), a Chicago-area nonprofit with which you and your husband Gery were associated. In recent months, I've sent Mr. Chico several letters requesting his answers to some straightforward questions, but I've never received a response.

In my most recent correspondence, a January 26, 2011 e-mail, I asked him to confirm claims made about you by SALF and statements attributed to you by SALF. Here's a copy of that e-mail:

As you can see, I informed Mr. Chico that if I didn't receive his reply, I'd contact you to attempt to obtain the information. Since I haven't heard from him, I'd appreciate your answers to the following questions.

According to an April 23, 2003 SALF press release, you were a member of SALF's Educational Advisory Board.

1) Is this accurate? If so, which years were you a member of that board?

The same press release attributes this quote to you:
"My husband Gery (former President, Chicago Board of Ed.) was instrumental in bringing SALF to the Chicago Public Schools in 1998. Since then the program has saved so many lives here in Illinois, many by those same children who were trained, proving that children can make a difference. Being committed myself to education, I know that the Save A Life Program is right in line with Secretary Paige's goals for expanded health related education, especially education that saves lives. It is exciting to see something that has begun in Illinois, being embraced by other states that need it...this is only the beginning."
2) Is this quote accurately attributed to you? If so, regarding your claim that "the (SALF) program has saved so many lives here in Illinois, many by those same children who were trained," would you please direct me to any such cases?

Please feel free to provide any additional related information or comments.

Thank you for any help and I'd appreciate receiving your answers in the next few days. If you require more time, please let me know in the next few days and I'll do my best to accommodate your schedule.


Lee Cary
Little Elm, TX

SALF founder/president Carol J. Spizzirri and Educational Advisory Board member Sunny Chico present SALF award to Mississippi Governor Ronnie Musgrove (2003)
Click here for links to dozens of broadcast and print reports about the Save-A-Life Foundation (SALF), including stories about SALF being investigated by the Illinois Attorney General and SALF founder/president Carol Spizzirri (pictured above), reportedly a twice-convicted shoplifter who fabricated medical credentials and a college degree, and whose daughter took out a protective order against her based on allegations of physical abuse.
Also see "Are these documents the reason Gery Chico won't answer questions about the Save-A-Life Foundation?," SALF Exposed! blog, 1/27/11
SALF officers Sunny Chico & Carol Spizzirri present award, 4/24/03 press release

Lee's 1/7/11 questions to Sunny Chico re: the Save-A-Life Foundation

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Are these documents the reason Gery Chico won't answer questions about the Save-A-Life Foundation?

Gery Chico accepts award from SALF founder/president Carol J. Spizzirri, reportedly a twice-convicted shoplifter who claimed non-existent medical credentials and a bogus college degree. (Source document here.)

At the end of last year, political writer Lee Cary asked Gery Chico a few non-confrontational questions about the Save-A-Life Foundation (SALF), the Chicago-area nonprofit reportedly under investigation by the IL Attorney General and, according to this letter, also by the feds.

Lee wanted to know what the man who wants to be Chicago's next mayor had to say about investigations of an organization with which Chico and his wife were affiliated. Click here and here for Lee's letters, in which he asked Chico these questions: 
1. Have you or has anyone you know been contacted by anyone connected with the Attorney General’s investigation of the Save-A-Life Foundation? If so, please provide details.

2. In federal reports, Save-A-Life claimed it had used a portion of $3.33 million it received from the US Centers for Disease Control & Prevention to train thousands of Chicago Public Schools (CPS) students. However, in response to a federal subpoena and FOIA requests, CPS apparently has no supporting records. Do you recommend that the Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services initiate an investigation to determine if those federal millions were properly administered?

3. CPS paid Save-A-Life approximately $62,000 in public funds to provide first aid training to thousands of students, however CPS records indicate that at best a few hundred may have received training.  Do you recommend that CPS Inspector General James M. Sullivan initiate an investigation to determine if the $62,000 paid by CPS to Save-A-Life was properly administered?
Not exactly tough, in-your-face questions for a guy who's campaigning on a pledge to "bring more openness, transparency and accountability (to) city government." Nevertheless, despite multiple inquiries to his law firm and to his campaign office, Chico has not responded.

Since then, other documents have surfaced that may indicate why Chico seems to be playing dodge 'em. Yesterday, Lee sent Chico some new questions centering around those documents (inserted below).
From: Lee Cary <>
Subject: media inquiry
Date: Wednesday, January 26, 2011, 5:37 PM

Sent via e-mail and faxed to (312)463-1001

Gery Chico
Chico & Nunes, P.C.
333 West Wacker Drive Suite 1800
Chicago, IL 60606

Dear Mr. Chico,

I recently sent inquiries to you and to your associates Paul Vallas and Carlos Azcoitia PhD regarding your affiliations and promotion of the Save-A-Life Foundation (SALF), a Chicago-area nonprofit reportedly under investigation by the IL Attorney General's Charitable Trust Bureau.

Despite multiple attempts, to date I've only received a response from Dr. Azcoitia. If your lack of response was an oversight, I'd appreciate receiving your answers to the three questions I asked you. I'd also appreciate your answers to these questions:

1) According to SALF, you served as a member of their organization's Board of Directors. Is that accurate? If so, please provide details.
Click here for source document, 2002 SALF Annual Report

2) According to SALF, in a speech you presented at their organization's annual conference (at which your wife Sunny also appeared as a participant), you stated that you “will fight for the SALF programs and that their training is not a luxury, it’s a necessity.” Is this accurate?
Click here for source document, September 2003 SALF "Bridge the Gap" Conference

A SALF press release quoted your wife as saying, "My husband Gery was instrumental in bringing SALF to the Chicago Public Schools."
Click here for source document, April 24, 2003 SALF press release
3) Would you please ask your wife if she was accurately quoted and let me know what she says?

4) Do you consider the quote to be accurate or inaccurate? Please explain.

Thanks for your continued attention and I look forward to your reply. In the event I don't receive a reply from you in the next few days, I'll follow-up with Mrs. Chico.


Lee Cary
Little Elm, TX

Cc: Brooke Anderson, Gery Chico for Mayor

But wait, there's more. According to SALF, Chico (and Arne Duncan, now US Secretary of Education) helped draft the organization's 2002 "Pre-EMS White Paper":

Click here for source document (undated but file creation date is 12/26/02)

It's obvious that Chico is under no obligation to answer questions about his relationship with SALF and presumably he doesn't want to open the door to the subject by responding to inquiries from Lee Cary, a blogger from the Lone Star State.

But the Chicago mayoral derby has at least another month to play out. Will one of Chico's competitors or a MSM reporter raise the subject of his ties to an organization that may have ripped-off million$ from Illinois and US taxpayers?

The answer to that question is also obvious. It's up to them.
1/26/11 questions to Gery Chico re: whether he was a member of Save-A-Life Foundation corporate board; his ...

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Did Save-A-Life rip off Carpentersville, Illinois? If so, maybe Rita Mullins can help locate the missing funds!

From 2009 Citizens for Mullins re-election campaign (click here for complete bio)

"I know (the Save-A-Life Foundation) to be a very well-run organization.”

That's what Rita Mullins, then-mayor of Palatine, Illinois and Save-A-Life's Director of Government Affairs, told the Daily Herald, according to a May 9, 2007 article.

Based on the following letters, city officials and business owners in the neighboring village of Carpentersville might disagree.

Here's a June 18, 2008 letter from Bill Sarto, then-mayor of Carpentersville, to Carrie Viehweg, Save-A-Life's Illinois State Director. Mayor Sarto's letter included $4,200 in donation checks from local businesses (payable to Save-A-Life), contracting the organization to provide first aid training classes to students in the Carpentersville schools.
Carpentersville Mayor Bill Sarto sends $4200 to Save-A-Life Foundation's Carrie Viehweg, 6/18/08

Was Mayor Sarto was aware that two years before, Save-A-Life had been the subject of four scorching exposes by ABC Chicago? Did Ms. Viehweg or any other Save-A-Life representatives inform him about those reports so that he could inform donors? If so, Mayor Sarto gave no indication in a June 16, 2008 blog in which he hyped the program
Through the generosity of several of our local businesses we now have the seed money to begin the program. We have raised over $5,000.00 toward this worthwhile endeavor.
Hey, wait a minute. If over $5,000 was raised for "this worthwhile endeavor," how come Mayor Sarto only sent $4,200 to Ms. Viewheg a couple of days later?

Dunno, but per this letter they both signed, Mayor Sarto and Ms. Viehweg then went shopping for more funding. Note their claim that "more than a million school-aged children and youth have" received first aid training from Save-A-Life. Does anyone have any records to back up that claim? (Hello, Ms. Viehweg? Ms. Mullins?):
$5000 grant request from Carpentersville Mayor Bill Sarto & SALF's Carrie Viehweg, 8/25/08

A year later, based on this October 22, 2009 financial reimbursement demand and seeming legal threat from Carpentersville Fire Chief John Schuldt to Save-A-Life's founder/president Carol Spizzirri, the deal had gone waaaay south:
Carpentersvile Fire Chief demands return of funds from Save-A-Life Foundation, 10/22/09

It's not known if Chief Schuldt recovered the money or if he asked Save-A-Life's second-in-command Rita Mullins to help him to reimburse the Carpentersville donors.

Six months before his letter, Mullins was defeated by a landslide in her 2009 re-election bid. On October 22, 2009, the Village of Palatine held a dedication ceremony to re-name a local landmark as "Rita L. Mullins Volunteer Plaza" for her 20 years of service as mayor.

Coincidentally, that's the same date as the chief's demand letter to Mullins's "very well run" organization.

According to the October 11, 2009 Chicago Tribune, Mullins is now partners in a new business venture with her "close friend" Carol Spizzirri (page down for photo gallery).

According to the November 17, 2010 San Diego Reader, Spizzirri - who now lives in a mobile home park in San Marcos, California - is a twice-convicted shoplifter whose daughter filed a protective order against her that included allegations of physical abuse.

According to recent reports in The Hill and other news outlets, the Save-A-Life Foundation is being investigated by the Illinois Attorney General's Charitable Trusts Bureau.

Save-A-Life founder/president Carol J. Spizzirri consoles Rita Mullins after losing her 20-year Palatine mayor, Election Night 2009
Business partners Rita Mullins & Carol Spizzirri, March 2010
Save-A-Life Director Dane Neal, Carol Spizzirri, ex-NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Rita Mullins
Carol Spizzirri, NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Rita Mullins
IL Secretary of State Jesse White & Rita Mullins (center), Carol Spizzirri (right) 

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Fraud whistleblower asks Chicago Schools Inspector General to review Save-A-Life/Ronald McDonald House program

Ronald McDonald, SALF president Carol Spizzirri (reportedly a twice-convicted shoplifter with fabricated medical & educational credentials), and Chicago Schools CEO Arne Duncan, who reportedly called Spizzirri "one of my heroes."

Medical fraud whistleblower Peter Heimlich has asked the Inspector General of the Chicago Public Schools to determine if approximately $62,000 paid by the schools to the Save-A-Life Foundation (SALF) was properly administered.

Peter is the son of Dr. Henry J. Heimlich, developer of the Heimlich maneuver, the abdominal thrust treatment for someone who's choking. According to an ABC Chicago I-Team report, Dr. Heimlich was a medical advisor to SALF until he was "stripped of his position" three years ago.

In a letter yesterday, the younger Heimlich also asked Inspector General James Sullivan to "determine the veracity of claims made by SALF in order to advance their organization as a CPS vendor and to obtain CPS funding."

According a recent article in The Hill, "Save-A-Life, which provides first-aid training classes to school students, is under investigation by the Illinois Attorney General's Charitable Trusts Bureau."

From Heimlich's eight-page letter. Click here to download a copy; page to the end of this item for a viewable copy:
In response to a 2009 federal court subpoena and subsequent FOIA requests for any and all SALF training records, the Chicago Board of Education and CPS produced the following documents: a May 26, 1999 School Board resolution; 22 invoices with corresponding purchase orders dated from 2000-2007; an August 5, 2005 letter to Schools CEO Arne Duncan from SALF founder/president Carol J. Spizzirri accompanying a six-page grant application; and a December 8, 2005 letter from Mr. Duncan to Ms. Spizzirri approving the grant request.

This paucity of records, combined with the concerns discussed below, raises legitimate questions regarding whether or not SALF fulfilled the obligations contracted by and paid for by CPS.
8/5/05 "Dear Arne" letter, grant request for SALF's CPS/McDonald's program

12/8/05 "Dear Carol" letter from Arne Duncan approving SALF/Ronald McDonald House program

Arne Duncan awards $49K Chicago Schools funds to Save A Life Foundation

Ronald McDonald House Charities awards $87,500 to Save-A-Life Foundation, 2004-06

The federal court subpoena results may have been documents obtained by Chicago attorney Wayne Giampietro who represented Heimlich and two other individuals in a failed defamation lawsuit filed by SALF in 2007. According to a July 14, 2009 Cincinnati CityBeat report by Kevin Osborne:
An Illinois-based organization dropped its defamation lawsuit this month against local blogger Jason Haap and two other critics. The two-year-old case was widely viewed as having the potential to set a precedent involving First Amendment protections for online commentary.

Attorneys for the Save-a-Life Foundation filed a motion for voluntary dismissal July 7 in federal court, and U.S. District Judge Matthew F. Kennelly granted it two days later.

In the lawsuit, Save-a-Life had alleged that (blogger Jason) Haap, Peter Heimlich and Dr. Robert Baratz conspired to harm the foundation’s reputation by distributing false information to agencies that fund it, as well as serving as sources for a derogatory report on Save-a-Life that aired on WLS-TV, Chicago’s ABC affiliate...The Save-a-Life case was the eighth most-viewed case on a Harvard Law School-affiliated Web site that monitors Internet-related free speech cases.
In an October 16, 2009 follow-up, Osborne reported that "The Save-a-Life Foundation filed (dissolution) papers with the Illinois Secretary of State’s Office on Sept. 17. The action ends the existence of the 16-year-old corporation."

Heimlich was interviewed by Brian Ross in a 2007 ABC 20/20 report about his father, Dr. Heimlich's New 'Maneuver': Cure AIDS With Malaria.

On his MedFraud website, Peter Heimlich is soliciting information for a book he's writing. The list of topics includes the Save-A-Life Foundation and Carol Spizzirri, who, according to a recent San Diego Reader article, is now living in a mobile home park in San Marcos, California.

Dane Neal of SALF, Dr. Heimlich, Ciprina Spizzirri, Carol Spizzirri at the White House (2005) 

Heimlich request to Chicago Schools Inspector General to review Save-A-Life funding, 1/5/11