ZEIGLER — Months after the FBI raided Zeigler City Hall and city treasurer Ryan Thorpe was indicted for embezzling funds from the city, Zeigler Mayor Dennis Mitchell said the city may not be getting all the money back.
After the story broke in October that Thorpe was charged in federal court with stealing $315,890.94 from the city between Jan. 1, 2013, and Aug. 31, 2017, Mitchell said he was confident the city would recoup the damages, with its insurance policies that cover crime and with the bond taken out on Thorpe every year.
The indictment charges that from March 4, 2013, to Aug. 3, 2017, Thorpe embezzled more than $300,000 by writing checks to himself drawn on the city of Zeigler’s general account.
Now, he’s not so sure.
He said the city has received $100,000 from the Illinois Municipal League, but that there is a disagreement about how much their insurance policy actually covers.
He said it is possible the city may never see the other $215,000.
However, in a deal finalized on Christmas Day, they city has been granted rights to property seized from Thorpe by the FBI last year. According to a document provided by the city’s attorney, Rebecca Whittington, a list of 33 items, including two Honda motorcycles, one Polaris side-by-side, a diamond ring and more than 20 firearms will be turned over to the city. Whittington said the city does not yet have the property and she did not have a timeline as to when it would be turned over.
This was a victory for the city, especially since it may not be getting another insurance payment, because it will be able to sell the items in the hopes of getting some of the money back. Whittington said it is up to the mayor and finance commissioner as to the best way to go about selling the property. However, she said the firearms will need to be sold by a licensed dealer.
ZEIGLER — An audit report from accountant Dennis Uhls provides a final number of how much former Zeigler treasurer Ryan Thorpe allegedly stole…
Mitchell said while the alleged theft certainly hurt, the fact that it occurred over a few years lessened the blow.
“It wasn’t a Titanic kind of issue where the ship is going to sink,” Mitchell said.
Looking to the new year, Mitchell said he plans to maintain the city's current mode of operating — the city has not yet replaced its treasurer and has been making due with a local CPA taking on many of the financial roles of the treasurer. He said he does plan to replace that position in the next few months, but will a reduced role — the person will handle risk management coordination and some human resource duties, Mitchell said.
He said the city also hopes to pay down some of its debt. He said Zeigler owes about $50,000 to the IML, $20,000 to Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund and $10,000 to Wiggs Excavating.
However, Mitchell said the city is at least saving the roughly $35,000 salary Thorpe made as treasurer, not to mention the “bleeding” of $8,000 to $10,000 a month Thorpe allegedly stole from the city in his last year.
Thorpe pleaded not guilty to the charges against him and is scheduled for a federal jury trial at 9 a.m. Feb. 26.
Ousted Zeigler treasurer Ryan Thorpe faces federal wire fraud and embezzlement charges; he is accused of stealing more than $300,000 from the city of Zeigler.