Former Zeigler Treasurer sentenced to four years in prison - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Former Zeigler Treasurer sentenced to four years in prison

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BENTON, Ill. -- Federal court judge Staci Yandle sentenced former Zeigler Treasurer Ryan Thorpe to four years in prison Tuesday morning for embezzling more than $320,000 in city funds from 2013 through 2017.

During the hearing Thorpe, who pleaded guilty in March, apologized for his actions and broke down when Yandle handed down his sentence.

“Justice isn’t an eraser, but it is an ink pen, and this judge with her pen is writing the end of the story for Ryan and the beginning of the story of Zeigler,” said city attorney Rebecca Whittington.

At the hearing, Whittington read a victim allocution outlining the the damage to the city and it’s residents. 

She said while the financial impact was significant, it also damaged citizen’s confidence in their government.

It’s that sentiment that Judge Yandle cited in her sentence, which far exceeded the guidelines of 27-33 months, saying as a public official Thorpe deserved to be held to a higher standard.

She said the crime was not an isolated incident, but a “calculated and conniving scheme,” and added the case was “really about absolute and unadulterated greed.”

An FBI investigation showed he the stole more than $320,000 between March 2013 and August 2017 by writing city checks to himself and then changing records to show an approved vendor’s name.

For Zeigler mayor Dennis Mitchell the sentencing was welcome, but he says the city has a long way to go before it can fully recover.

“The ramifications of this will be for years,” Mitchell said. “It won’t just be over after this sentencing hearing today.”

As part of the sentencing, Thorpe is also ordered to pay full restitution to the city.

During the hearing Judge Yandle said she hopes the punishment sends a clear message to public officials across Illinois that breaching the public trust will not be tolerated.

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