Former City Inspector Sentenced to 2½ Years in Prison for Taking Bribes to Help More Than 500 Individuals Obtain State Food Sanitation Certificates

Maryanne Koll, a retired Chicago Public Health Department food sanitation inspector, was sentenced today to 2 1/2 years in federal prison for conspiracy to commit bribery for accepting at least $96,930 in return for fraudulently arranging to provide bogus food service certificates for at least 531 individuals.

The defendant, who operated Kollmar Food Safety Institute from her home in Burr Ridge, was convicted in September 2011 of one count of bribery conspiracy by a federal judge following a bench trial in Federal Court.

Koll, 69, was sentenced to 30 months in prison by U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber, who had rendered the guilty verdict last year. She was ordered to begin serving the sentence on Dec. 31, 2012.

The sentence was announced by Gary S. Shapiro, Acting United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; William C. Monroe, Acting Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and Joseph Ferguson, Inspector General for the City of Chicago.

According to court documents, between 1995 and 2007, Koll was authorized by the IDPH to teach state-mandated food sanitation courses and administer exams to individuals seeking certification as food service sanitation managers. A state-approved course required 15 hours of training, including instruction regarding food borne illnesses, time/temperature relationships, personal hygiene, pest control and prevention of food contamination.

State law required all food service establishments, such as restaurants, grocery stores, bakeries, convenience stores, schools and hospitals to have on-site an individual holding a food service sanitation manager certificate based on successful completion of the course and exam. Through a reciprocity agreement between the City of Chicago and the state, an individual holding an Illinois certificate could obtain a Chicago food service sanitation manager certificate without taking a second exam by submitting a copy of the state certificate to the city along with a fee.

From at least June 2004 through June 2007, in exchange for cash bribes, Koll arranged to fraudulently obtain certificates for individuals who had not attended a course or passed the exam. She enabled them to obtain certificates by fraudulently completing answer sheets and submitting them to the IDPH on their behalf, knowing that they had not attended the course or taken the exam. Although Koll was an independent contractor for the State of Illinois, the judge found that, under federal law, she was an agent of the state Department of Public Health when she accepted bribes.

Koll was initially charged in 2007 and her conviction followed several years of legal proceedings. At the time the case began, federal authorities said they had provided state officials with information about the unqualified individuals who received fraudulent state certificates.

The government is being represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michelle Nasser.