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Lake County Illinois Commission Preparing To Sue Kenosha County – County Executive Doubles Down On Risky Hire

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Sherry Kruse – Veterans Benefits Representative and Samantha Kerkman – Kenosha County Executive
(facebook) (File Photo by Kevin Mathewson, Kenosha County Eye)

The Veterans Assistance Commission of Lake County, Illinois has lawyered up and is seemingly considering suing Kenosha County for the alleged defamation from one of its employees. According to a letter authored by Illinois Attorney James P. Kelly of Franks, Kelly, Matuszewich & Andrle, P.C., a new Kenosha County employee is defaming her old boss and employer.

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In the letter, obtained by KCE, Attorney Kelly writes:

“The commission has become aware that one of your Division of Veterans Services employees, Sherry Kruse, has made and continues to make, patently false and defamatory statements about [the] superintendent of the Veterans Assistance Commission of Lake County, Andrew Tangent, and the operation of the Office of Veterans Assistance Commission of Lake County…

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Further, we believe that those statements have been made by Sherry Kruse in her official capacity as Veterans Benefits Representative, in her dealings with veterans in Kenosha County who are also members of Veteran Service Organization, American Legion, and Veterans of Foreign War Posts in Lake County, Illinois. The Veterans Assistance Commission’s objective is to serve the veterans and Ms. Kruse’s statements are made to undermine veterans’ confidence in the commission and its superintendent. Ms. Kruse is a disgruntled employee whose statements are the result of a vendetta against the commission arising from her departure from the commission.”

KCE asked the County Executive for a copy of this letter last night after business hours. This morning, at 9:19 am, Kerkman’s lawyer, Jenny Kopp sent us the cease and desist letter and also included a letter Kopp back to the Illinois Attorney. This letter asked for more details, but didn’t dispute any of the allegations made in the letter.

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County Executive Samantha Kerkman still isn’t answering any questions about the very risky hire she made a few months ago. Before County Executive Samantha Kerkman hired Krise for the important role, she worked for the Veterans Assistance Commission of Lake County as its Assistant Superintendent.

According to her personnel file, released by VACLC by means of a F.O.I.A. request, she had been in extremely hot water for quite some time. According to a document signed by Kruse and her boss, Andrew Tangen, she was issued a very stern reprimand on July 6, 2023. She resigned in lieu of termination on July 14, 2023.

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On August 13, 2023, she applied to work at Kenosha County. Her job application is below. Of note in her application, she is asked why she left her previous employer. Instead of telling the truth – she resigned in lieu of termination, she wrote: “Personal, can discuss more in person if needed”

KCE is told that Samantha Kerkman – County Executive, John Jansen – Director of Human Services, and Jennifer Blasi – Interim Director of Veterans Services, all knew about Kruse’s troubles at her last job, but hired her anyway on September 5, 2023. We asked all three women why they hired someone with a history like this and what clarifying questions they asked during the interview. No response.

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KCE was made aware on December 4, 2023 that Kruse was under investigation by Gurnee, IL Police detectives for alleged time card fraud. Kerkman knew about this and ignored it. This was confirmed by a Gurnee police spokesperson

In the document from Illinois detailing Kruse’s many deficiencies, the following was pointed out:

Failure to lead the Veterans Assistance Commission of Lake County (VACLC) as Assistant Superintendent by ceasing to conduct the requirements of said position in accordance with the job description

Failure to correct diminished work hours and performance after being informally counselled by the Superintendent on March 20, 2023

Failure to communicate with the Superintendent regarding vacations

Failure to admit to wrongly placing vacation on the calendar without complete information

Editing the calendar after Superintendent asked where Assistant Superintendent would be when Superintendent was informed Assistant Superintendent would not be in the office for the June 2023 Executive Committee Board Meeting without informing Superintendent of the change

Not communicating, coordinating, or delegating with any staff to ensure meeting minutes would be accurately taken during the absence of the Assistant Superintendent

Discussing displeasure with the Superintendent with subordinate staff members to include the Senior Veteran Service Officers and the Executive Assistant

Discussing displeasure with the Chief of Staff with subordinate staff members to include the Senior Veteran Service Officers and the Executive Assistant

Failure to inform Chief of Staff of desires for new office ‘space or visit new office space to inquire regarding layout and then complaining to subordinate staff displeasure in the Chief of Staff and Superintendent’s planning when no input was given to either the Chief of Staff or Superintendent

Leaving every day at 3 pm exactly

Filing only 17 claims and 14 appeals in 7 months

Deficiencies in claims that were filed in FY 23 ,to include filings on the wrong forms

Having veteran records mailed to Assistant Superintendent’s personal residence, instead of the office to ensure records are not lost or compromised  

Not communicating with Superintendent regarding day-to-day operations

Not communicating with Superintendent regarding vacation plans or waiting until the last minute to inform Superintendent of vacation plans, causing fees to be levied against the VACLC regarding hotel reservations being cancelled

Taking excessive time off for various events, to include arriving late to work, departing for several hours, returning, and then leaving at exactly 3 pm

Not communicating with Superintendent by inquiring on what needs to be accomplished for the office

Not communicating with Superintendent regarding workflow

Not communicating with Superintendent regarding what steps are being taken to ensure proper unit Cohesion

Not communicating with Superintendent regarding nature of absences

Not communicating/inquiring with Superintendent regarding taking personal time during the workday

Excessive personal cellular phone usage during business hours

Not taken any initiative to participate in any state or national level responsibilities unless directly commanded to participate in those responsibilities

Not communicating/inquiring regarding new office status in Gurnee

Not communicating/inquiring regarding new office status at FHCC

______________________________________________________________________________________

Of course, KCE will keep you updated when this story develops.

Letter To CE Kerkman Re Cease And Desist 1 S Kruse Application Packet Redacted 1 S Kruse Discipline 14 July 2023 S Kruse Discipline 6 July 2023 Kruse Resignation

Author

  • Kevin Mathewson

    Kevin Mathewson is a disciple of Christ, husband and a father to two wonderful children. Mathewson was born and raised in Lake County, IL and worked as a police & fire dispatcher from 2005 to 2010 in Round Lake Beach, IL. Mathewson moved to Kenosha County in 2006, later being elected to the position of Alderman of the 8th District in 2012 and 2016. Mathewson is a private investigator, security contractor, journalist, and photographer. He enjoys spending time with his family, watching movies, camping and boating. His favorite amendment is the second, followed closely by the first. He loves his country and community.

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78 Responses

  1. If one-fourth of this is true then her former boss should be booted for letting this get as bad as it did. My gut feeling is that there may be more than one person who needs to be shown the door.

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    1. Her former boss counseled her and documented it on many occasions. She was the time card approver that is why she defrauded Lake County for so long.

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      1. That’s the whole point. He KNEW about this and kept her around. Most of these allegations are NOT things you “counsel” someone about.

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        1. Which ones are things you don’t get counseled on? The documents themselves show previous counselings that Kruse signed as understanding.

        2. What did he KNOW? Maybe if you read the documents, you’ll see he confronted her in emails about her leave. Clearly he looked into it after she tried to pull something on him. Once that was done, she quit. Sounds like a lying piece of shit that’s keeping up with these articles and trying to burn everyone down.

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          1. It’s amazing how many people don’t know how to read. It’s obvious from the documents she was responsible. Any moron who has had to do time card approval knows once it’s approved, that’s it. She clearly saw an easy way to scam while her boss was fighting for veterans. What a piece of shit

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          2. I think the issue is that there is more than one piece of mold in that organization. Let’s be clear: nothing justifies wrongdoing by Kruse. With that out of the way it should be obvious that there are issues with that agency, period. Why was she, a non-veteran, hired in the first place (with no related experience, either)? If she was scamming the system and was “counseled” about it why was her contract extended in May? Was the superintendent covering for her? And/or was he covering his own hind end? And when someone asks questions the circle the wagons and threaten lawsuits? Sounds like that agency has a lot of explaining to do.

            And here are there working hours (from their website):

            Hours

            Monday – Friday
            8:00 am – 12:00 pm
            1:00 pm – 3:00 pm

            Closed for Lunch
            12:00 pm – 1:00 pm

            By comparison the VSO in Sangamon County (Springfield) is open eight hours a day.

            It isn’t rocket science, folks. There’s a lot fishy down there.

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            1. Any idea if that’s public office hours and not business hours? That’s two different things. Any idea when the workday starts or when the workday ends?

              If not, you’re just throwing out allegations and have no idea what her previous office does. Take a look at the website. They do quite a bit. More than just the hours you listed.

              The fact still remains, she committed fraud, got caught, and is getting investigated. She’s a criminal and shouldn’t be representing veterans. She needs jail time

            2. Hi Sherry and Mike! Hope you enjoy that new house and new car while you’ve got it! Jail will be cold for you. And if Mike’s involved in this, I hope he goes down too

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            3. Hi Sherry! You know what the real working hours were. Don’t play stupid and quote the hours of a county 5 hours away from the county you stole from, you cowardly piece of shit. Quit already and let the actual veterans help veterans, not the stolen valor pieces of shit like you

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              1. A little PTSD there Jack? Anger that you didn’t get the job? Apparently it’s personal to you!

    2. Hi Sherry! It’s so obviously you. You clearly are commenting on every article about Ali Nelson and you. It’s the same sentence structure and argument. You know from your job description that you were responsible for time cards. You also know you got caught from the emails in the attachments. You’re scum and I hope you enjoy prison.

  2. Hey Kevin !

    How about another open records request for all the other applicants that this gal beat out ?
    Sure would be interesting to see who Sam skipped over to then pick this train wreck.

    This job opening was posted, wasn’t it ?

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    1. That is a great idea! If she beat out qualified actual veterans then Samantha & Jennifer both have some explaining to do.

  3. According to her resume, she has a “proven HIGH SCHOOL DIPLOMA track record.” You would think that someone in her position would have at least SOME college. Maybe all the other applicants were high school drop outs. What educational requirements were listed on the job posting?

    I give her some credit. She did not fraudulently claim to have a college degree like some high ranking Kenosha government officials have done.

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    1. High School Diploma, no military service, and no credibility! She sounds like a great candidate as a politician.

      1. Wow! Nothing wrong with JUST a high school diploma. I have that. However, sounds like she never should’ve been given a position in veteran advocacy

  4. All of those records mailed to her home address is a violation of HIPAA laws to say the least. I hope every veteran to include the VA was contacted.

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    1. Wonder why she was having records sent to her house? Did she rip off veterans for free services given to veterans?

      1. Probably because she had a scam running in the side. I wonder how much money she stole from veterans. What a piece of shit

  5. Would anyone be shocked to learn some one on one time between the county executive and the new hire wouldn’t be a stretch. I mean…. Crotch rockets and fireworks!

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  6. National Association of County Veterans Service Officers & American Legion should be contacted about Sherry Kruse.

      1. Hi Sherry! How’s the new house and new car? You getting by on those payouts you got from veterans while in Lake County? How about that money you stole from the County?

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  7. If Lake County sues and wins, this should come out of Samatha Kerkman, Clara Tappa, Zasmine Lewis, John Jansen, Rebecca Dutter, & Jennifer Blasi’s personal accounts!

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  8. Well…there has been some controversy involving the head honcho of the Lake County office. Apparently a pissing contest with the county board refusing to approve some spending and him suing them (unsuccessfully).

    On May 17, 2023 the commission voted to extend the contracts of Kruse and her boss for three years. If there were ongoing problems with her why were they kept from the commission and why was she given a contract extension?

    Quite possible that Kruse had a falling out with her boss, he axed her and now she’s airing his part of the dirty laundry.

    1. Well, Mike, it’s clear your fiancée was well thought of and was given opportunity after opportunity to correct herself. There’s a lot of ample evidence in these documents to show she doesn’t have any honesty or desire to do what’s right, even with repeated chances. Make sure you get a prenup. It’ll save you in the long run. Trust me.

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      1. She can’t have a fiancé and a husband at the same time! Sounds like she cheated with more than just time cards.

    2. I’d love to see her arrested for her fraud and try and use this argument as a defense. If there was tangible proof, it’d be out there. I’m sure Kevin would gladly write an article showing that proof. Just allegations for Kruse and people close to her

    3. Why did no one ask why she left after 17 years? She needs to answer tough questions from the police. What a piece of shit

  9. Allegation: Leaving the office at 3 p.m. every day.

    Fact: That office closes at 3 p.m. every day. I know it sounds weird but it’s verifiable.

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    1. Closing for what? The public or for work? If it’s the public, it’s probably still open for several hours for other important things that need to be done. Maybe a private investigator or someone else should go and see what time employees actually leave…then you’d have a point on your statement

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    2. Closed to the public at 3 but you should have been trying to get more than 17 cases filed at 3:01 without having to mail veterans personal information to include medical records to your home address!

      1. Right? I fought the BA for 45 years for benefits. After being on national advisory counsels, I can tell you real VSOs work nights and weekends to help their vets. Leaving at 3 every day and doing nothing is absolutely ridiculous and she should’ve been fired for that alone. She should have enough shame and needs to go away. That’s the honorable thing. Clearly she has no honor

    1. Good question, but probably irrelevant, as we are seeing the end of her political career in this story. (Unless she runs as a democrat, then this is acceptable)

  10. Clearly Kruse and her fiancée have been polishing their arguments since this article came out: https://kenoshacountyeye.com/2023/12/07/county-executive-hires-woman-fired-for-fraud-under-criminal-investigation

    It went from her old boss was racist and sexist to her old boss was on the take. Ya know what they say about lairs? They never keep their story straight.

    I hope Mike gets a prenup, cause she’s gonna find another toy and leave his ass. That’s her. That’s what she does. She’s a lying and corrupt scumbag, who is never happy. It’ll be a good day for veterans when she gets fired and arrested

    1. I don’t see there’s any evidence that he’s on the take, do you? But he had to have been aware of her misconduct which was pretty significant. People are fired for much less.

      1. Guess we’ll find out more when Kruse goes to court. Maybe he was trying to get her to pull her head out of her ass, but once he found out about the fraud he fired her

      2. Or she pretended to be clean and tried to go after him and he discovered she was committing fraud because she was responsible for all time cards, including her old boss. It’s obvious from the documents he discovered it and confronted her. She’s trying to argue through internet comments that she did nothing wrong. She’s scum and needs to be locked up for the maximum penalty

      3. I’m not saying he was on the take, but you read the comments that are obviously from Kruse or her fiancée or people close to her across the multiple articles, you can see how the arguments change. She’s a piece of shit and she needs to be behind bars. And anyone helping her is an accomplice. They’re all scum and need to go down

  11. Kruse and her family and fiancée are clearly commenting on this string. Can’t wait for her to be carted off in cuffs.

    Typical criminal. Caught dead to rights doing bad things and instead of having courage, she’s trying to burn down her old boss on internet comments.

    If she had any evidence or was actually suing her former employer, she’d produce it or it would already be filed. She’s got nothing. She’s a coward and so is her fiancée. A stolen valor couple for the books. Someone should contact stolen valor for all their bullshit.

    Vets deserve better than Sherry Kruse. She’s a piece of shit

  12. Only a sociopath would continue on the veterans path for less pay after all of her illegal acts in Lake County. Surely that High School diploma can get her another job. Leave our veterans out of your lying, scheming path Sherry. Somebody better check on that 3.5 GPA!

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  13. I will be contacting the VA, NACVSO, American Legion, and The Veterans Service Commission tomorrow. Our Vets deserve better!

    1. I was in there just last week. Blast was out doing god knows what and Kruse told me she didn’t have access on her computer and took me into Blasi’s office and used Blasi’s credentials to look up my file. I was really weirded out by that. Kruse told me she didn’t have access yet, but everything was fine. Didn’t sit right with me, so I left. I wonder how often Kruse is accessing government systems she doesn’t have clearance for and what she’s doing with that. I smell a rat

  14. Sherry Kruse is the human equivalent of the spongy thing the American legions put in their toilet bowls next to the stickers of Jane Fonda. She’s a garbage individual with no honor who needs to realize she’s a piece of shit and resign. I hope she realizes that she’s got nothing but a stolen valor fiancée and horrible life choices. She sucks

  15. First of all, we only know what is written here. We all should know that there is more to the story. If she had these issues, there should be an order of discipline, from a verbal to a written warning. If that happened, she should have been let go. The fact they offered her a chance to resign or be fired means that they did not want to deal with the firing process and lawsuit that may occur for wrongful termination. I’m not saying she was wrongfully let go, I’m saying the orgainzation did not want to mess around with all of that.
    The fact she is in Kenosha County at a similiar job pisses her old employer off. Maybe Kenosha County failed in doing a background check…maybe they needed a warm body and she fit in…who knows.
    I see some sour grapes coming from the FIBS and those jealous of not getting the job she had/has.
    But needless to say, justice will prevail and like all of us, she will be judged for her actions.

    1. I technically agree with you, but if you read the documents, and the article (both this one and the other one about kruse) you’ll see references to previous counselings. How long did she work for her old boss? What was her output? What was her hours? What did she do before this? If it’s all the same consistently through the years, I get your point. But, if there was a change in performance, your conclusion is wrong. I don’t know. But I’d like to. If it is a case of breaking bad, kruse needed to go and needs to leave Kenosha. If otherwise, I’d agree. However it looks like a short time that this occurred, not something that was tracked for her 17 year career that was used against her when the time was right

  16. From what has been published here (and elsewhere):
    1. She probably shouldn’t have been hired in Illinois due to minimal, if any, qualifications for the position.
    2. If only a fraction of the alleged misconduct is true she should not have been “counseled” by her boss but terminated.
    3. Instead, in May her contract was extended for three years.
    4. Two months later she was “resigned.”
    5. She was hired by Kenosha County thereafter.

    What we don’t know is why her former boss in Illinois allowed this to continue when it should have been nipped in the bud. And, of course, we only know one side of the story. We also don’t know why Kenosha County made such a risky hiring decision. Hopefully her current supervisor will carefully monitor the workflow to ensure that there isn’t a repeat of what happened in Illinois and that the board overseeing the Illinois agency will take a hard look at the supervisor’s actions, or, perhaps more accurately, inaction.

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    1. Maybe read the comment above about her former boss fighting the county? Could be something there. Maybe she did something related to that.

  17. No one failed to background check in this situation. They all knew she had a pending lawsuit against her. They all knew she lied on her timesheet and falsified documents. They all knew she accessed records of veterans without their written permission and consent. They knew she had an affair with a co-worker and a client while married to Billy. They knew and the concerned citizens of Kenosha County would like to know why a known criminal was put in a position of trust taking care of our veterans.

    Jennifer Blasi couldn’t have been that incompetent that they were willing to hire a known criminal to assist her with her duties. To be clear, she is a FIB!

    1. Maybe Ms. Blasi failed to do due diligence and made a poor hiring decision. It would be interesting to see what kind of recommendation the Illinois agency made, if any.

    2. There’s no way they all KNEW about these accusations. No one in their right mind would hire her with this out there. She probably lied and falsified her references. That’s what they should look into

        1. That’s what I was thinking. Or there was a reason they didn’t. What’s Kenosha’s hiring policy? Did they not follow it and check with her previous employer? Why?

    3. Yes, management and Kenosha County HR had to have known about this if they did their due diligence. It is a shame that they would give someone like Sherry Kruse a job working with veterans. Goes to show Samantha does not care about Kenosha County’s veterans.

  18. The Kenosha County VSO office is a joke. They are rude, not helpful, and do not support Veterans. I’m not surprised at all, this just follows years of bad management and horrible people. Veterans deserve better.

  19. Hi bet you won’t be as so quick to spread your legs will you? Shame on you from what I make out from this mess sounds like you were screwing your boss and he was screwing you and you’re still both trying to screw each other. I think you’re both screwed.

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  20. I spoke with Sam and she says she did not approve of hiring Sherry Kruse. She was not aware of her being under investigation. She was hired by Jennifer Blasi, John Jansen, and Rebecca Dutter.





  21. They hired new employees in that office without getting rid of Jennifer Blasi and Sherry Kruse it will be more of the same no brains, lack of empathy for veterans, and bad attitudes.

  22. They hired new employees in that office without getting rid of Jennifer Blasi and Sherry Kruse it will be more of the same no brains, lack of empathy for veterans, and bad attitudes.

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