Park District, Township Official Pleads Guilty to Theft
But Brian H. Younker, of Tinley Park, said he was unaware of the 2010 crime until charges came a year later, putting blame on his insurance agent.
A southwest suburban public official on Tuesday pleaded guilty to theft—as part of a settlement with the state—while maintaining his innocence.
Brian H. Younker, board president of the Tinley Park Park District and Orland Township highway commissioner, agreed to one year of supervision for closing his ex-wife’s life insurance policy with MetLife and depositing the $3,402 balance in his Will County bank account in July 2010.
Nearly a year later, his ex-wife—who works in the records department of the Tinley Park Police Department—pressed charges after receiving a letter and $250 refund check from MetLife. Police charged Younker, 41, of the 7700 block of Bristol Park, with felony forgery, but prosecutors lowered it to misdemeanor theft.
On Tuesday, the Tinley Park resident pleaded guilty to the facts of the case, but contended outside the courtroom that his MetLife Insurance agent was to blame.
Younker was listed as the beneficiary of his wife’s life insurance, and he said he was under the impression that the policy had been successfully transferred into his name when he closed it.
“It’s the best outcome I could ask for,” he said of the plea deal. “I’ve exhausted my resources, and I’m confident there was no wrongdoing on my behalf.”
So confident is Younker that he has filed a complaint against his insurance agent with the Illinois Department of Insurance in an effort to seek restitution in civil court. Atop his list of grievances are $15,000 in legal bills and a night in jail.
Younker’s decision to pay back the life insurance policy last year helped open talks between the state and his attorney, Christopher Edmonds. In addition to one year of supervision, Younker must pay $100 in remaining court fees.
Messages left with Younker’s ex-wife and a Tinley Park investigator seeking comment were not returned.
“He’s free to say whatever he wants (about who’s at fault),” Will County state’s attorney spokesman Chuck Pelkie said. “But what matters in this case is that he pleaded guilty.”
Last year, Younker was reelected to his fifth term on the Tinley Park Park District board, where he has served since 1995. In 2009, he unseated Donald Yunker as Orland Township highway commissioner.
According to Parks and Recreation Director John Curran, the conviction, because it is only a misdemeanor, will not affect Younker's seat at the park district.