Treasurer of City of Zeigler Pleads Guilty to Fraud and Embezzlement Charges
Today in federal court in Benton, Illinois, Ryan A. Thorpe, 44, the former Treasurer of the City of Zeigler, Illinois, pled guilty to five counts of 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 which occurred while Thorpe worked as the Treasurer for the City of Zeigler.
In pleading guilty today, Thorpe admitted that from March 4, 2013, through Aug. 3, 2017, he embezzled $321,399.22 by writing checks payable to himself 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 these checks, writing in the names of vendors and suppliers that the city did business with, photocopying the altered checks, placing these 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.
"Corruption by public officials simply cannot be tolerated," 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. Whenever this type of conduct is discovered, our office will prosecute
these officials and seek appropriate punishments."
As part of his plea agreement, Thorpe agreed to turn over to the City of Zeigler numerous items he purchased with the embezzled funds. These 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 also agreed to forfeit a significant number of assets to the United States. The assets Thorpe agreed to forfeit include: 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 retirement accounts valued at a total of approximately $9,000, and a camper. After these properties are forfeited and sold, the United States Attorney’s Office will request that the funds from these sales be released and applied to the restitution amount that Thorpe will owe to the City of Zeigler. In the plea agreement, Thorpe acknowledged that he owes restitution to the City of Zeigler in the amount of $321,399.22, less credits for the value of the items turned over to the City and forfeited to the United States.
The sentencing hearing for Thorpe has been set for June 12, 2018, at 9:30 a.m. The sentencing hearing will be conducted at the Federal Courthouse in Benton. Each of the three wire fraud counts to which Thorpe pled guilty carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Each of the two counts of embezzlement from a local government carries a maximum sentence of 10 years of imprisonment and a $250,000 fine.
The investigation was conducted by agents from the Springfield Division, Marion, IL Resident Agency of the FBI. The Franklin County Sheriff’s Department assisted in the investigation. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Scott A. Verseman.