Treasurer of public agency charged with embezzlement

Most people in Belleville and Madison County have probably never heard of the Wood River Levee and Drainage District. The name may become more familiar in the next few days due to the arrest of the District’s secretary-treasurer on theft charges and the resulting political battle that was triggered.

The Madison County State Attorney’s office had apparently received reports of financial mismanagement and possible theft at the district in early September. The district attorney’s office used the assistance of a financial adviser to uncover the theft.

Apparently, some employees of the district had reported paycheck irregularities to their superiors. The investigation that result in the charges and the arrest was begun in early September. Investigators believe that the defendant made attempts to conceal the thefts. On September 25, 2018, the secretary-treasurer of the district was arrested and charged with theft of more than $10,000 in district funds and with official misconduct.

A minor political storm erupted when the chairman of the Madison County Board called for a forensic audit of the district’s finances on the day after the suspect was arrested. The county attorney responded by claiming that the board chairman was acting irresponsibly in calling for an audit while an investigation is already underway. The board chairman and the county attorney belong to different political parties.

Many details of this case remain to be unearthed, but the defendant, if convicted, could face significant incarceration and a fine. Anyone facing similar charges may wish to consult an experienced criminal defense attorney for advice on the law and facts of the case and, if circumstances warrant, assistance in negotiating a favorable plea agreement.