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April 21, 2024

Shelby County – ISP Recorded Interview of Treasurer Erica Firnhaber

By Kirk Allen & John Kraft

On January 6, 2024

Shelby Co. (ECWd) –

As covered in previous articles, the Illinois State Police interviewed four people in relation to the payroll malfeasance that was taking place in the Shelby County Sheriff’s office several years ago.  While we were able to obtain the written reports of those interviews, the ISP fought us in court for years in their attempt to not turn over the recorded interviews.  This was surprising since the ISP has turned over such recordings in numerous other requests we had made in other investigations.

As expected, the statements made and the failure to follow up and validate certain things are troubling. All that aside, we now understand why the AG chose to do nothing in this case as the investigation lacked any real diligence to get the truth of the matter. It is clear, they took what was told to them as true and simply reported what was said rather than verify those claims. Had they tried to verify many of the claims they would have discovered what they were told was not accurate and in some cases simply not true.

While we greatly appreciate the ISP’s attempt to determine if there was criminality by deputies getting paid for time not worked, it appears the question has never been answered because those deputies have not been interviewed.  We know at least one deputy knew what was happening was not legal, and when concerns were raised, they were told not to worry about it. When a flag gets raised and then ignored, it tends to point to knowingly doing something they are not supposed to.

We did notice the ISP asked several times if Firnhaber believed certain matters described were criminal, as in did she believed it to be criminal.  Our understanding of a criminal investigation it is to determine if the evidence indicates a criminal violation of law, not what a person filing a complaint believes.  It is clear, Firnhaber followed the guidance of legal counsel as she was told there needs to be a criminal investigation.  She compiled the data and provided it to the authorities to do their job. With that in mind, why wasn’t the attorney who advised there needs to be a criminal investigation questioned?

Additionally, the ISP appears to have missed the real target in this matter. Were these overpayments really a strategy to pad the pockets of employees, thus ensuring full support from them when it comes time for an election?  We ask because we were told by one county official, not the treasurer, that was the case and they knew it because the Sheriff told them so.  If true, it points to criminality, but we will never know at this point because other people were not interviewed even though it was claimed they were going to be interviewed.

Even though the ISP indicated they were going to interview others to get to the bottom of what appeared to be solid information on some employees’ improper compensation, it never happened.  Some of those matters were outlined in this article.

The audio can be downloaded at this link or listened to below.

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