Ex-village clerk pleads innocent to theft

WATSEKA — A Cissna Park woman pleaded innocent Friday to a felony charge alleging she stole more than $100,000 in village funds over a six-year period while serving as Cissna Park’s village clerk and bookkeeper/collector.

Rhonda Sue Siebert, 58, demanded a jury trial during Friday’s arraignment in Iroquois County Circuit Court. The case was placed on the next available jury trial calendar with Associate Judge James B. Kinzer.

A pretrial hearing was set for 1:30 p.m. Jan. 7.

An Iroquois County grand jury returned a one-count indictment Wednesday charging Siebert with theft of between $100,000 and $500,000.
Siebert was released from jail Thursday after posting $10,000 cash — 10 percent of her $100,000 bond.

In court Friday, Assistant State’s Attorney Alexander O’Brien noted Siebert had the means to post bond yet had told the court earlier on Thursday that she is indigent and needs a public defender. Public defender Dale Strough of Watseka was appointed.

O’Brien asked Siebert on Friday to complete an affidavit stating her assets and liabilities. Siebert completed the affidavit, and the court then decided that based on the affidavit, the appointment of a public defender is confirmed.

Siebert said in the affidavit that she borrowed cash from a friend to post bond. She said she does not have adequate assets to retain counsel, as she is unemployed and has no income, and her only assets are a 2009 Ford Fusion and her home. She said her liabilities include a $70,000 mortgage, $12,000 owed on her car and $6,000 in personal debts.

State’s Attorney Jim Devine said Thursday evening that Siebert allegedly stole “well in excess of $100,000” while serving as Cissna Park’s elected village clerk and appointed bookkeeper/collector. However, Devine, along with Sheriff Derek Hagen, declined to disclose the exact amount.

Hagen said an investigation by  the sheriff’s office determined the theft of the money occurred over a period of time dating back to 2006. Hagen said Siebert allegedly stole the funds through the use of a village-owned credit card, village checks and cash.

Siebert was fired as collector/bookkeeper during the village board’s Sept. 17 meeting. During the same meeting, she resigned as village clerk.

Siebert had been village clerk since January 1993 and bookkeeper/collector for at least 15 years, officials said.


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