Former Treasurer for City of Zeigler, IL sentenced to Four Years in Prison for Embezzlement and Fraud
On the morning of June 12, 2018, at the United States District Court in Benton, Illinois, Ryan A. Thorpe, 44, the former Treasurer for the City of Zeigler, was sentenced to four years in federal prison for his conviction for wire fraud and embezzlement from a local government, announced Donald S. Boyce, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois. The charges against Thorpe relate to events that occurred while Thorpe worked as the Treasurer for the City of Zeigler in Franklin County, Illinois.
When he pled guilty on March 1, 2018, Thorpe admitted that that from March 4, 2013, through August 3, 2017, he embezzled $321,399.22 by writing checks payable to himself and drawn on the City of Zeigler’s general account. Thorpe also admitted that he concealed his thefts from the City of Zeigler by altering the copies of the checks that were sent to the city each month by the city’s bank. Thorpe accomplished this by "whiting out" his name in the payee section of those checks, writing in the names of vendors and suppliers that the city did business with, photocopying the altered checks, placing the photocopies in the bank records kept by the city, and then shredding the copies of the checks with the "white out." Thorpe also acknowledged that he further concealed his thefts by submitting false monthly Treasurer’s Reports to the Zeigler City Council.
In announcing the four year prison sentence this morning, United States District Judge Staci M. Yandle said she found it troubling that Thorpe began embezzling from the City of Zeigler only a few months after becoming the Treasurer. Judge Yandle also noted the devastating impact Thorpe’s embezzlements have had on the City of Zeigler and its residents, telling Thorpe: "The seriousness of your crime cannot be overstated." Noting that Thorpe used funds stolen from the city to purchase several expensive items for himself and his family members, Judge Yandle determined that Thorpe’s crimes were motivated by "absolute and unadulterated greed." She further observed that public corruption of the sort committed by Thorpe destroys public confidence in Government and the democratic process.
"We feel that the sentence imposed by the court today appropriately addresses the seriousness of Thorpe’s criminal conduct," commented U.S. Attorney Boyce. "Officials who steal from the citizens they are elected and appointed to represent commit a gross abuse of public trust. It’s our hope that lengthy prison sentences like the one imposed today will serve to deter other public officials from defrauding their constituents."
As part of the sentence, the court ordered Thorpe to pay full restitution of $321,399.22 to the City of Zeigler and its insurance carrier. In accordance with the terms of his plea agreement, Thorpe also turned over to the City of Zeigler numerous items that he purchased with the embezzled funds. Those items include: a side-by-side Utility Task Vehicle; two motorcycles; a utility trailer; a lady’s diamond ring; numerous firearms; a gun safe; and a four-propeller drone. The total value of this property is estimated at $35,872.74. Thorpe was given a credit toward restitution paid in this amount.
Thorpe also agreed to forfeit a significant number of assets to the United States, including a second side-by-side Utility Task Vehicle; a portable building; a lot and trailer located across the street from Thorpe’s house in Zeigler; five additional vacant lots located in Zeigler; two IRAs valued at a total of approximately $9,000; and a camper. After these properties are forfeited and sold, the U.S. Attorney’s Office will request that the funds from these sales be released and applied to the restitution amount that Thorpe owes to the City of Zeigler.
The investigation was conducted by agents from the Springfield Division, Marion, Illinois Resident Agency, of the Federal Bureau of Investigation ("FBI"). The Franklin County Sheriff’s Department assisted in the investigation. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Scott A. Verseman.