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FBI in probe of Carroll County township

Departed official is asked to pay audit bill

MILLEDGEVILLE – Authorities started to investigate a Carroll County township about the time that its supervisor suddenly departed in March. Now, the FBI is involved.

On March 13, the Wysox Township board voted unanimously to accept the immediate resignation of Kim Kent, who had been the elected supervisor the past 3 years. Kent did not attend that meeting.

The board then voided all checks issued by Kent, who also had been manager of Milledgeville Community Credit Union.

On Oct. 15, the township’s clerk, Laurie Byvick, sent a letter to Kent asking her to pay a $5,000 bill for a standard audit. Byvick said the township had to incur the extra expense because Kent resigned out of the normal 4-year cycle.

Byvick said she also would send a copy of the bill to Milledgeville Police Chief Jim Haag.

Three weeks later, Kent’s attorney, Robert Fagan of Freeport, said his client would not pay the bill.

The township board also has spent $6,723 for a forensic audit, but has not asked Kent to pay that.

The same day that Byvick sent the letter to Kent, Byvick received a letter from the FBI informing her that the township may have been a victim of a crime. The agency said it was investigating, but released no other information.

‘We want answers, too’

Chief Haag said he started looking into problems at the township and credit union in March. He said he identified misuse of funds at both places. In May, he turned over the results to Carroll County State’s Attorney Scott Brinkmeier.

In August, Haag said he got a call from an FBI agent who was investigating. He said he hadn’t heard anything since.

Haag said the case began at the credit union. Then his investigation moved to the government of Wysox Township, which includes Milledgeville and has about 1,400 people.

Residents in Milledgeville are upset about the situation, Haag said.

Kent now has no association with the township, Byvick said.

“Everything is intact,” she said. “We have all of our money.”

As for the investigation, she said: “We want answers, too. ... This whole situation is frustrating.”

Steve Smith, a township trustee, said the township had recovered all of its money; he said he wanted a resolution to the case.

“To me, Scott Brinkmeier really dropped the ball,” Smith said. “Why should it take that long to do something?”

Brinkmeier, who confirmed the investigation, referred questions to the FBI.

“The matter has not been dropped by my office,” he said.

Todd Ewers, chairman of the credit union’s supervisory committee, said his organization had called police about the problem.

“It was sent to the state’s attorney, and since was forwarded to the FBI,” he said.

Bruce Buhr, an FBI agent in the Rockford office, said he couldn’t comment on pending investigations.

Township expects criminal proceedings

In November, Sauk Valley Media issued a public records request to Wysox Township. The township provided copies of meeting minutes, the standard audit, and letters between Byvick and Kent’s attorney.

But the township said in a letter that it wouldn’t release a supplemental audit, citing exceptions to the Freedom of Information Act.

“Disclosure of additional records within [the township’s] possession related to the individual identified would interfere with reasonably contemplated law enforcement proceedings and create a substantial likelihood that a person will be deprived of a fair trial and impartial hearing, ...” Byvick said in a letter to Sauk Valley Media.

The township expected proceedings in state or federal court, or both, she said.

The decision not to release the audit was made after the township contacted the Carroll County state’s attorney and FBI, Byvick said.

In March, the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation levied a fine of $1,000 against the credit union for its failure to submit an external audit for 2010. The audit was due March 31, 2011.

In its documents, the agency said it had repeatedly contacted the credit union’s manager, Kent, since the due date.

By early April, Kent no longer was the credit union’s manager. Christina McAuliffe became the manager on April 9.

Chartered in 1957, the credit union has nearly $3.8 million in assets, according to the state. It has about 900 members.

Kent’s attorney, Fagan, declined to comment. No one answered Kent’s phone.

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