The former director of the Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County pleaded guilty this morning to stealing more than $800,000 from the agency and was sentenced to 7 years in prison and 3 years probation.
Christopher Brooke Beal, 49, said in court he was “deeply shamed” by his actions as he formally changed his prior not guilty plea to felony theft charges at the Skokie courthouse.
In sentencing Beal, Gottainer-Edidin said that Beal committed a crime against the public, and that while he could have stopped stealing from SWANCC at any time, he continued his criminal behavior for four years before he was caught.
Beal pleaded guilty to a Class X felony, meaning he was facing a mandatory prison term of between 6 and 30 years in prison and fines of up to $25,000. But in her sentencing, Gottainer-Edidin noted that Beal's crime was not violent, that he has settled a federal civil suit in the case and had "stepped up to justice."
Beal was the executive director of the SWANCC when he was arrested in spring 2011.
In pleading guilty Beal admitted to stealing $850,000 in payments from the agency as reimbursement for executive and graduate management classes that he never attended or enrolled in, Assistant State’s Attorney Nick Trutenko said Wednesday.
"It's a tragedy," SWANCC chairman and Skokie mayor George Van Dusen said outside of the courtroom.
"He's a very bright person. Why he did this, I have no idea," Van Dusen added. "Nobody's ever happy to see something like this happen. But all things considered, this is a very fair disposition for the residents of our 23 communities."
Beal had been placed on leave from the Glenview-based agency the prior October. His lawyer had said before that Beal was selling off his assets in order try to pay back as much as possible.
At his sentencing, Beal apologized to the 23 communities who are members of SWANCC, which provides recycling and waste-transferring services.