Shelby Co. (ECWd) –
We have been waiting for over a year for the Attorney General’s Office to make a charging decision on the illegal gun sales and alleged payroll fraud in the Sheriff’s Office under former Sheriff Don Koonce.
A recent denial of our freedom of information act request related to investigation information provides a cryptic breath of fresh air and an indication that there might possibly be some accountability for alleged crimes in Shelby County. Couple that with the ongoing forensic audit of payroll at the Sheriff’s office not being completed yet, the tea leaves point to something coming.
Your request is denied pursuant to section 7(1)(d)(i) of FOIA. 5 ILCS 140/7(1) (d)(i) (West 2020). Section 7(1)(d)(i) exempts from disclosure “[r]ecords in the possession of any public body created in the course of administrative enforcement proceedings, and any law enforcement * * * agency [created] for law enforcement purposes * * * to the extent that disclosure would unavoidably * * * interfere with pending or actually and reasonably contemplated law enforcement proceedings conducted by any law enforcement * * * agency that is the recipient of the request.” The records contain information related to the legal issues under consideration by this office and other government agencies. To release such information while the investigation is pending would interfere with this office’s ability to fully assess all legal issues and pursue the appropriate courses of action.
Legal issues under consideration by the Attorney General Office? They have had the ISP investigation records for over a year? Has the ongoing forensic audit identified additional alleged fraud and opened up even more possible criminal charges for those responsible? Considering the audit has yet to be presented to the board even though it was tentatively scheduled for such delivery in December we can only wonder. We suspect the delay is tied to the audit. Time will tell.
Legal issues under consideration by other government agencies? The only other government agencies would be the federal authorities, who we understand had the FBI looking into matters at the Shelby County Highway Department and possibly one other department. While our request for records had nothing to do with the highway department, its possible the federal authorities have gotten involved in the illegal gun sales.
For them to confirm the release of the requested records would interfere with their ability to assess all legal issues and pursue the appropriate course of action tells us the matter has not died on the vine like so many other criminal investigations in this state.
In hopes that our assessment is accurate, we will continue to hold off publishing the evidence we provided to authorities over a year ago as we are confident it is more than compelling and it’s release prior to any charges could tip those involved off and give them time to further cover-up the alleged crimes.
We will update any activity in this matter in a future article.
A copy of the AG’s response can be downloaded at this link or viewed below.68840-closing-letter
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