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Local

Detective accused of stealing $1,741 from evidence vault freed on bond

Theft appears to have stemmed from Dec. 6 death investigation, documents show

Veronica Jaramillo
Veronica Jaramillo

MORRISON – A Rock Falls detective charged with official misconduct and theft after investigators say she stole money from the department's evidence vault was freed this afternoon after posting bond.

Detective Sgt. Veronica Jaramillo, 43, of Sterling, faces 2 to 5 years in prison on each felony charge.

Bond was set at $20,000 today, which was significantly lower than the $100,000 requested by the state, but not the recognizance bond sought by her attorney, Jim Mertes.

Jaramillo, who is on administrative leave pending further investigation, was freed after posting 10 percent, or $2,000.

According to court documents and testimony at the hearing, Jaramillo took $1,741 from the evidence vault, to which she had a key, on May 10 and used some of it to pay utility bills.

Jaramillo was the lead investigator in the Dec. 6 death of Paul Rodney Depotter, 27, of Rock Falls.

According to police documents sent to Sauk Valley Media by his mother, Penny Depotter, 46, of Dixon, $1,741 was found on Depotter's body in his Rock Falls apartment that day and entered into evidence.

Her son's money was part of a $2,500 inheritance he received a few days before, and she asked to get it back to pay for the funeral, but her request was denied, his mother said.

"When I called to tell [Jaramillo that] I needed help to bury my son, she did not care," Penny said. "I'm hurt. I'm mad. And why? What was more important than my son?"

In her report, Jaramillo wrote that it was brought to her attention that Penny had interest in the money to pay for funeral expenses, but the money would have to stay in evidence until legal documentation was received allowing its release to an appropriate family member.

Jaramillo was arrested Tuesday by State Police and taken to Lee County Jail, rather than Whiteside, based on a joint decision by law enforcement and the detective, Lee County Sheriff John Simonton has said. She posted bond at Whiteside County Jail a few hours after the bond hearing.

Rock Falls Police Chief Tammy Nelson said in a news release Wednesday that her department was made aware of "an ongoing" State Police investigation, and as standard procedure, all of the cases in which Jaramillo was the lead investigator will be reviewed and reassigned.

It does not appear that any investigation or arrest will be impacted at this time, the release said.

Jaramillo was hired in 2009 as a patrol officer; she was promoted to sergeant and assigned to the detective division in early October 2014.

A preliminary hearing is set for June 6.

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