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CISSNA PARK — Cissna Park’s former longtime village clerk and bookkeeper/collector was released from the Iroquois County Jail on Thursday after making her first court appearance in connection with the alleged theft of more than $100,000 in village funds.
Rhonda Sue Siebert, 58, who listed an address in the 300 block of West Harrison Street in Cissna Park, was arrested Wednesday evening on an Iroquois County warrant charging her with one count of theft of over $100,000, Sheriff Derek Hagen said.
Siebert was formally charged Thursday. In court Thursday afternoon, public defender Dale Strough of Watseka was appointed to represent Siebert. Meanwhile, Judge Gordon Lustfeldt recused himself from the case, which was re-assigned to Associate Judge James B. Kinzer.
Siebert posted $10,000 cash — 10 percent of her $100,000 bond — to be released from jail Thursday afternoon. She was ordered to appear in court at 9:30 a.m. Friday for the setting of arraignment.
An Iroquois County grand jury returned a one-count indictment charging Siebert with theft on Wednesday. Siebert was arrested early Wednesday evening at her home by the sheriff’s office and Cissna Park Police Department, Hagen said.
Hagen said in early October that the sheriff’s office was asked by Cissna Park officials to investigate “some of the financial matters of the village” after Siebert was fired in September as collector and bookkeeper, an appointed position she held in addition to serving as the elected village clerk.
Hagen said the investigation determined that since 2006, Siebert allegedly stole “in excess of $100,000” in village funds through the use of a village-owned credit card, village checks and cash.
Hagen could not provide an exact figure for the amount allegedly stolen.
“What I can tell you is once we were called to look into the alleged misappropriation of village funds, once our investigation concluded, we determined that there was an amount of village funds in excess of $100,000 that she used for personal use,” Hagen said. “It involved a village credit card, and also the availability of cash and checks.”
Hagen said no one else was involved.
A secretary for State’s Attorney Jim Devine said Thursday that Devine is not releasing further information.
The village board voted during a Sept. 17 meeting to dismiss Siebert as collector/bookkeeper. During the same meeting, Siebert resigned as village clerk, board President Rick Baier said.
Baier said following Siebert’s arrest that he was “very appreciative of the Iroquois County Sheriff’s Department for handling the investigation.”
Siebert had been village clerk since January 1993. She was most recently elected to a four-year term in 2009 after running unopposed.
Siebert had been bookkeeper/collector for at least 15 years, Baier said.
In October, Valerie Dannehl was appointed to fill the remainder of Siebert’s term as village clerk, which expires April 30, 2013. Dannehl, 51, a lifelong Cissna Park resident, is employed as a bookkeeper at the Cissna Park State Bank and is a former employee of the Iroquois County Treasurer’s Office.
Also in October, Edye Bookwalter of Hoopeston was hired as interim bookkeeper and Kathy Kosik as temporary part-time collector.
The board then hired Jennifer Redeker of Cissna Park on Nov. 19 to take over the collector position. Kosik is currently training Redeker for the job, Baier said.