(Sun Times Wire) A former Chicago cop who was sentenced to federal prison for leaking sensitive police information to her gang-leader boyfriend was still able to land a job with the state of Illinois investigating doctors despite her criminal background, records show.
In 2006, Officer Tashika Miner was arrested in a drug investigation called Operation Snake Bite, which targeted sales of deadly fentanyl-laced heroin in the Chicago Housing Authority’s Dearborn Homes public housing complex on the South Side.
Miner, whose last name was Sledge then, was giving Mickey Cobras leader Lynn Barksdale access to a police database to help him determine which members of the gang were under surveillance, according to prosecutors.
Working for the Chicago Police Department, she had patrolled the Dearborn Homes, where she began her relationship with Barksdale. She helped protect his drug operations in the complex, prosecutors said.
At one point, Barksdale was stopped by the police while driving Miner’s SUV, and they found her badge in the vehicle.
Miner’s lawyer told a judge she committed her crimes because she was “blinded by love.”
Her mother, who is a former Chicago cop, and a lieutenant, Ricky Edwards, wrote letters to the court supporting her.
“I consider Tashika to be intelligent, trustworthy and loyal,” Edwards wrote. “Although mistakes have been made, and who has not made one, I am confident Tashika will rebound and return far more to the community than she has lost.”
Edwards quit the department in 2012 after then-police Supt. Garry McCarthy sought to fire him for failing to take a drug test.
Miner, now 41, was sentenced to 10 months in federal prison in 2007 after pleading guilty to participating in a drug conspiracy.
In 2016, the state Department of Financial and Professional Regulation hired her as a health-services investigator with access to sensitive Blue Cross/Blue Shield insurance information, state records show.
She has worked in the medical-investigations unit, which conducts investigations that involve doctors, chiropractors and other medical professionals, the records show.
A state database shows Miner continues to work for the agency. She makes $55,300 a year.
Miner could not be reached for comment.
In her 2016 job application, Miner gave this information on a “self-disclosure of a criminal history” form: “2007, conspiracy, Chicago, IL. Pled guilty.”
But a job screener for the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation never told anyone about the disclosure, according to the state Office of Executive Inspector General in a report that was highlighted in a recent state report.
“Ms. Miner sailed through the hiring process without any review being done of her criminal history in light of the investigatory position that she was being hired into — until after she began employment at IDFPR,” the report said.
The inspector general said the job screener’s inaction “malfeasance” resulted in her receiving counseling about evaluating the background of job candidates.
After Miner was hired, supervisors in the state Department of Financial and Professional Regulation learned of her criminal background but let her keep working there, according to the inspector general.
Brandon Purcell, the state agency’s chief of staff, signed off on Miner’s “self-disclosure of a criminal history” form.
Susan Gold, deputy director of statewide enforcement, told the inspector general’s office she found out about Miner’s 2007 conviction from an employee who spotted the information on the Internet.
Gold told inspector general’s investigators that Miner had “passed” a state police background check. But most of those background checks list only convictions in state court, not federal convictions like Miner’s, according to the inspector general.
The inspector general’s investigators asked Gold whether Miner would have been hired if supervisors knew about her conviction. Gold responded that, based on Miner’s performance once she was on the job, she should have been hired, according to the inspector general.
The report noted that the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation didn’t have a written policy for evaluating job candidates’ criminal histories, which has since been created.
The report didn’t make any recommendations about whether Miner should keep her job.
The Department of Financial and Professional Regulation released a statement saying, “Ms. Miner is a prime example of an individual who has taken responsibility for her mistakes, been rehabilitated and is a productive and exemplary employee at IDFPR.”
Article Org: Chicago.suntimes.com