BENSENVILLE, IL — The White Pines Golf Club in Bensenville has seen near-complete employee turnover since the start of 2020, prompted by “abnormal” refunds and “poor performance,” a park official said last week.
Joe Vallez, executive director of the Bensenville Park District since late 2016, took over as head of the golf club in February 2020. Previously, the senior golf club official reported directly to the park’s board of directors.
“When I walked into the facility, I immediately took action with select staff. The golf manager was fired within 10 days of my taking charge of the facility,” Vallez said in an interview. . “Since then, approximately 95% of staff have been replaced. Action has been taken due to poor performance of employees.”
Through a public records request, Patch obtained documents showing that Bensenville police were investigate the golf club for refunds given from 2014 to 2019. The Park District, Vallez said, brought information about the “abnormal” refunds to police.
The detective assigned to the case did not respond to a request for comment.
Records show the golf club issued $783,259 in refunds over six years. Annual amounts have steadily increased from $39,251 in 2014 to $284,192 in 2019.
According to the documents, many refunds came without a written explanation.
At least four employees had the authority to issue refunds, records show. They all seemed to use the “admin” login, so refunds couldn’t be assigned to one person.
“If you see a high amount of refunds in our business or any business, that should be a red flag,” Vallez said.
Vallez said the park district made a number of changes to prevent the previous reimbursement level. For example, he said, he changed his auditing and accounting software.
The golf club, he said, was losing money when he took over.
“The board really dictated to me that they wanted this facility to be as profitable and well managed as the rest of our facilities,” Vallez said.
He said the Park District passed all of its refund information to the police department.
“We had many meetings with them,” he said. “We weren’t told the investigation was closed. That’s why the Park District is taking care to discuss it.”