Dewitt Co. (ECWd) –
We first exposed the illegal credit card charges totaling over $27,000.00 by the former Wapella Road District Highway Commissioner Eldon Cusey in this article.
According to the Dewitt County Sheriffs’ investigation, Cusey was altering receipts to cover up his personal purchases while leaving the total for the receipt in place and making copies to then turn it in as if it was the actual receipt. The report indicates this activity went on for over 2.5 years.
The report indicates that personal purchases were made without paying the Township back. That statement is troubling as even if paid back it does not negate the fact use of public funds for personal use is a felony crime of Official Misconduct according to case law in this state, even if paid back.
The act of altering receipts and turning in a record known to be false is considered forgery under the Illinois Criminal Code for Forgery. It appears his actions would meet the prongs in paragraphs (a) and 1-3
(720 ILCS 5/17-3) (from Ch. 38, par. 17-3)
Sec. 17-3. Forgery.
(a) A person commits forgery when, with intent to defraud, he or she knowingly:
(1) makes a false document or alters any document to make it false and that document is apparently capable of defrauding another; or
(2) issues or delivers such document knowing it to have been thus made or altered; or
(3) possesses, with intent to issue or deliver, any such document knowing it to have been thus made or altered; or
(4) unlawfully uses the digital signature, as defined in the Financial Institutions Electronic Documents and Digital Signature Act, of another; or
(5) unlawfully creates an electronic signature of another person, as that term is defined in the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act.
(c) A document apparently capable of defrauding another includes, but is not limited to, one by which any right, obligation or power with reference to any person or property may be created, transferred, altered or terminated. A document includes any record or electronic record as those terms are defined in the Electronic Commerce Security Act. For purposes of this Section, a document also includes a Universal Price Code Label or coin.
(c-5) For purposes of this Section, “false document” or “document that is false” includes, but is not limited to, a document whose contents are false in some material way, or that purports to have been made by another or at another time, or with different provisions, or by authority of one who did not give such authority.
(1) Except as provided in paragraphs (2) and (3), forgery is a Class 3 felony.
(2) Forgery is a Class 4 felony when only one Universal Price Code Label is forged.
(3) Forgery is a Class A misdemeanor when an academic degree or coin is forged.
(e) It is not a violation of this Section if a false academic degree explicitly states “for novelty purposes only”.
(Source: P.A. 102-38, eff. 6-25-21.)
More troubling is the suggestion by the legal counsel for the township that advised the board it was “their” option to proceed civilly or criminally. The Township Board decided to not proceed criminally.
When did criminal prosecution become the decision of a Township Board?
I contacted the State’s Attorney for comment as it is that office that has the power to make such a determination. I received the following encouraging response.
This matter was referred to the Public Integrity Bureau of the Illinois Attorney General’s Office by my office for follow-up investigation and potential prosecution.
The Attorney General’s Office formally accepted this investigation on September 1, 2022. Any questions regarding the current status of that investigation should be directed to the Attorney General’s Office.
DeWitt County State’s Attorney
It is our opinion that when a Township Board chooses to not push for criminal charges in a case like this then each and every one of them should resign as they failed the taxpayers. Anyone looking at the items on this list could see these purchases were a clear abuse of public funds for personal gain and such actions are worthy of prosecution.
A copy of the Sheriff’s investigation report can be downloaded at this link or viewed below.Sheriff Report