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Former Illinois State Employee Sentenced to 2 ½ Years in Prison for Embezzling Government Funds

February 9, 2009

Springfield, Ill. – A former senior accountant for the Illinois State Treasurer’s Office was ordered to serve 30 months in federal prison for embezzling approximately $750,000 in state funds prior to her retirement from the agency. During today’s hearing, U.S. District Judge Jeanne E. Scott ordered Debra Kay Kirby, 54, of Taylorville, Illinois, to report to the federal Bureau of Prisons on April 1, 2009, to begin serving her prison term. Judge Scott further ordered Kirby to pay $263,408 in restitution, the amount Kirby pocketed as a result of the offense, to the Treasurer’s Office.

U.S. Attorney Rodger A. Heaton stated, “For her crime, Ms. Kirby will serve time in prison and must repay the money. Regrettably, her criminal conduct casts an unfair shadow on the thousands of state employees who consistently strive to provide honest and dedicated service to taxpayers.”

Illinois State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias noted that although the crime was an isolated case that took place while Kirby was employed under a previous administration, his office has since put in place new safeguards designed to better protect state funds and ensure such a breach of security will never happen again.

“We hope that Ms. Kirby’s sentence today not only serves as punishment for her illegal activity, but also as an example to all state employees that this type of behavior will not be tolerated and will have serious consequences,” Giannoulias said. “Government corruption is insidious and comes with costs that extend far beyond wasted taxpayer dollars as it violates the public’s trust.”

On August 20, 2008, Kirby pled guilty to wire fraud and money laundering. During court hearings and according to court documents, Kirby was employed at the Illinois State Treasurer’s Office from 1973 until her retirement in 2006. In 2005, Kirby opened a bank account under the name “Debo Craft,” which she controlled. On October 26, 2005, Kirby conducted a wire transfer of $750,000 in funds from the Illinois State Treasurer’s Office account to her Debo Craft account. On March 3, 2006, Kirby paid $486,591.59 from her Debo Craft account to the Illinois Treasurer’s office in an attempt to disguise the loss to the Treasurer’s office.

The charges were investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in cooperation with the Illinois State Treasurer’s Office. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Gregory M. Gilmore.

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