Alleged theft by Gilman clerk involved resident payments

GILMAN — The Iroquois County state’s attorney said that, so far, authorities have been able to account for $42,000 that was allegedly stolen by Gilman’s city clerk.

Michelle L. Fancher, 50, who listed an address at 509 N. Thomas St. in Gilman, was charged Thursday in Iroquois County Circuit Court with one count each of official misconduct and theft of between $10,000 and $100,000, both Class 3 felonies. Fancher is free after posting $500 of her $5,000 bond ahead of a Feb. 21 court date.

State’s Attorney Jim Devine said that between 2011 and 2017, Fancher allegedly took cash from Gilman residents who were paying their water, sewage and garbage fees. Devine said Fancher allegedly marked the accounts as paid but pocketed the money.

Devine said that in August 2017, Fancher went on vacation, then city officials found issues with the books. When Fancher was confronted, she resigned.

Devine said he was not aware of why Fancher allegedly took the money.

Fancher — who, according to Mayor Rick Theesfeld, had served as Gilman’s elected city clerk for an estimated 15 years — resigned last August amid an outside audit of the city’s book-keeping. Fancher did not provide any reason for her resignation, which was effective immediately, Theesfeld said.

Her resignation occurred as the city’s auditing firm, Fox Group out of Watseka, initiated an “expanded” audit of the city’s finances, Theesfeld said. The auditors had just started their annual audit when “they found some issues they brought to our attention,” prompting the auditors to take a closer look, Theesfeld said.

If Fancher is convicted, she could get probation or up to 15 years in prison.

Her attorney, Lance Cagle of Paxton, declined to comment.

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