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Employee convicted of felony theft could lose pension

From the From the archives: Stories of Southern Illinois municipal corruption series
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MARION -- A former Williamson County employee who pleaded guilty Monday to stealing cash from the circuit clerk’s office and was sentenced to four-years probation stands to lose her pension eligibility, according the Illinois statutes.

Cheryl Cundiff is one of three former Circuit Clerk employees charged by the Illinois Attorney General’s office in September with conspiring to steal $84,355 from cash bond payments.

The cases of the two other defendants, former clerk supervisor Marsha Sue Davis-Dickinson and former deputy clerk Kelly Trammel, are pending. Status hearings for each are set for April 13 in Williamson County Court.

Cundiff pleaded guilty to official misconduct and theft, both felonies, as part of a negotiated plea that included her paying $25,000 restitution. A number of other charges, including conspiracy, were dropped.

Cundiff, a former deputy clerk, faced between four and 15 years in prison for the more serious of two counts, both of which alleged she stole the money from around Jan. 1, 2009, to about Aug. 5, 2013.

Cundiff was enrolled in the pension program under the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund, Circuit Clerk Stuart Hall said.

Any IMRF member convicted of a job-related felony loses pension eligibility under state law, IMRF spokesperson John Krupa said. Eligibility is terminated on the date of sentencing.

Upon receiving notice from prosecutors of a conviction, the IMRF will investigate, Krupa said.

“If staff determines the felony was job-related, IMRF immediately notifies the member of his (or) her loss of pension eligibility,” Krupa wrote in an email response.

Cundiff can appeal the IMRF determination and can apply for a refund of her IMRF contributions, minus interest.

Editor's note: An earlier story incorrectly reported Cheryl Cundiff's sentence.

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