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IDOT auditor finds time for fiction in self-published book

Stephen Kirk, director of the Office of Internal Audit, is the proud author of “A Betrayal of Trust,” a fictional story about a man who runs a Ponzi scheme. A 35-year veteran of state government, including the past 13 at IDOT, Kirk began writing the book after working for the Illinois Secretary of State Securities Department.

Kirk took a moment to talk about his book and work at IDOT.

What inspired you to write the book?

I was trying to find a way to wind down from a very intense job at the Securities Department. I became very wrapped up with concerns over the victims of the fraud cases I inves­tigated. My father, who was a minister and counselor, suggested I write down my experiences and thoughts as a way of working through things and reducing my stress level. Upon reading my notes, my father suggest­ed that I make it into a book. I took his suggestion and began writing a book loosely based upon those expe­riences.

What’s the book about?

It is about a fictional character, Jim Heimhoff, who perpetuates a Ponzi scheme investment fraud. Here is the description from my book: “Jim Heimhoff didn’t look like a stockbroker. He portrayed himself as someone who dedicated his life to helping everyone prepare for their future. He sold investments that had an incred­ible return, but they weren’t real. He didn’t care who he stole from, ev­eryone was fair game. He used the funds to support a lifestyle that he and his wife had grown accustomed to. Luckily, his reign of devastation ended because of a team of auditors, but unfortunately, not before signifi­cant damage was done. Follow this scheme from its discovery by an audit team through the investigation and prosecution process.”

How long did it take you to write?

I first started collecting my thoughts in 1999, when I left my job as senior auditor for the Securities Department. It was probably somewhere in 2001 that I decided to try and make those thoughts into a book. There was a lot of starting and stopping along the way. When my father went into the hospital in 2019, I had hit writ­er’s block trying to get through the investigation and trial portions of the book. We talked a lot about my book and where I was at. He continued to encourage me to publish my book. I promised him I would get it com­pleted. The writer’s block lifted, and I began to write again while sitting in the waiting room. My father passed away Jan. 20, 2020. I published my book on Jan. 3, 2023.

Planning to write another one?

Possibly, I have a few ideas on the backburner.

What’s your day job?

As the director of the Office of Internal Audit, I am responsible for its man­agement and report directly to the secretary. The office is responsible for conducting internal audits and reviews of all of IDOT’s programs, policies and procedures to evaluate their effectiveness and compliance with laws, rules and requirements and determine if effective internal controls are in place. We follow up on any findings to ensure the proper implementation of corrective action plans. We coordinate the audits of the Auditor General’s Office and their external auditors, as well as that of U.S. DOT and other outside entities’ compliance auditors and staff with IDOT personnel. We also provide advice to IDOT personnel on issues of internal control and compliance.

The self-published book is available for purchase as a hardback, paperback or ebook via Amazon by searching “A Betrayal of Trust.”