The Fraud Examiner

Chicago Police Sergeant and CFE Helps Rebuild After Fraud
 

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November 2017

ACFE Member Profile
Sergeant Paul F. Bilotta, M.S., CFE
Vice President
Police Benevolent & Protective Association Chicago Police Sergeant's Association


Like a number of CFEs, Sgt. Paul Bilotta of the Chicago Police Department became interested in fraud when it hit close to home. In the late 2000s, the president of the Chicago Police Sergeants’ Association was arrested when it came to light he had embezzled more than $1 million from his fellow officers’ dues. “He hurt his friends who trusted him, and he hurt his co-workers who believed in him,” Bilotta told the Chicago Tribune. Bilotta never intended to get involved with the case but ultimately found himself as one of the leaders of the association as they rebuilt.

 

How did you become passionate about fighting fraud?

I became very interested in fraud around 2009 when our then-union president stole approximately $1.1 million of union dues money from the Chicago Police Sergeants’ Association. I attended court and was at the trial during this process. He was tried, convicted and sentenced to eight years in prison. He served approximately four and has been released. This entire process got me most interested in fraud as I played a small role.

 

What is one of the biggest lessons you have learned since becoming a CFE?

There are two sides to every story — sometimes three. Get all the facts before decisions are made; facts are important. I cannot tell you the amount of times I have seen people react without having all the information. Sometimes it can be painstakingly difficult to gather facts, but they are necessary for a complete and fair outcome.

 

What steps led you to your current position in the Chicago Police Department?

When I attended the union meeting regarding the theft of our dues, I stood up and made some comments. The then-president approached me and asked me to get involved in the union. I never envisioned my career path going in that direction and was hesitant. I told the then-president that I really did not want to become involved and that I only wanted to air my grievances. But he prodded me into becoming a director and I later became the financial secretary. After an election, I was elected vice president and became a full-time employee of the Chicago Police Sergeants’ Association. I currently serve as the grievance chair, the bylaws chair and am one of the members of the contract negotiating team. As I write this, our association is having elections in the next month and I am running unopposed for president. I will lead this association into their next contract and serve as their president until my term expires in January 2021.

 

What unique challenges do you face working as a police Sergeant?

There are unique challenges on a daily basis. Our members who work on the street face many challenges every day as they risk their lives dealing with the criminal element and those citizens who do not appreciate, or like, the police. My challenges are different as I work to protect my members and their contractual rights that have been earned over many years of this job.

 

What is a memorable case or project that you have worked on?

Again, I have to refer back to the case of the theft of our dues money. This case finally culminated with a guilty plea. It was actually a case that lingered on for several years with the defendant claiming his innocence until he finally realized that his lie was no longer being believed by anyone — including his own attorneys, leading him to plead guilty. This was not an easy case and many man hours from many people went into the outcome of this case.

 

What do you like about being an ACFE member?

I enjoy being an ACFE member for the mere fact that I get to meet so many interesting people. As vice president of the Chicago Chapter, I meet many people at our monthly meetings and get to learn what they do, as well as learn different perspectives about so many other jobs that use the CFE credential. Our Chicago Chapter is filled with many talented people that truly denote what being a CFE is all about. The Chicago board of directors has some remarkable people that have been very insightful into my pilgrimage into the world of CFEs. I attended my first conference this year in Nashville and had a great time. The breakout sessions were interesting and there was always somewhere to be and something to do. I met some great people and made some worthy contacts. I look forward to being able to attend another conference in the future.

 

How has membership in the ACFE impacted your professional development?

I have always preached to my children that you can never stop learning no matter your age. I received my M.S. well into my 30s while working nights and having a wife and three children at home. My second graduate certificate came about 10 years later. Professionally, the ACFE has allowed me to expand my knowledge of the career choices available to CFEs, as well as meet great and interesting people. I truly enjoy being a part of this organization and having all the resources that are made available to CFEs. If you use what is offered to you through the ACFE, you can't lose. The people involved truly care and will usually help in any way they can to ensure a successful outcome once a challenge is presented.   

 

What activities or hobbies do you like to do outside of work?

Outside of work is busy for me. I enjoy boating, fishing, skiing, tinkering with cars and home repair. I'm not sure how I have time to actually go to work. As of today I have 1165 more days of work before I can join the retirement club, but who’s counting?