Animal Services theft case still not ready for court

By Susan Johnson
Copy Editor

A former Winnebago County Animal Services employee, Gloria Ohman-Knox, has been charged with nine felony counts for allegedly embezzling $10,000 from the county facility. State’s Attorney Joseph Bruscato’s office is in the process of investigating the case.

Ohman-Knox had worked at the facility for more than 20 years but was fired in January when the sources of the missing funds was discovered in a routine audit by Winnebago County Auditor Bill Crowley. It was determined that the money had been stolen over a five-year period. A warrant for arrest was issued April 29, 2010 with bond set at $5,000.

Ohman-Knox was terminated immediately and has been granted seven court appeals. She  appeared before Associate Judge John R. Truitt Sept. 15, when her attorney stated there was a recovery of funds in process, and another status hearing was held Oct. 13. At that time, another status hearing was requested for Nov. 24, and the judge agreed. The prosecutor is Wendy Larson, who could not comment for this article.

David Peterson, interim executive director of Winnebago County Animal Services, told The Rock River Times he had no further information. “Animal Services are out of it; it’s in the State’s Attorney’s hands now,” he said. “We don’t even get a status report until we ask for it.”

In an earlier report of WREX-TV 13, Winnebago County Board Chairman Scott Christiansen (R) had said, “I can assure everyone, we’re going to recover, we’re going to go after every dime; there’s a zero tolerance for this in this county.”

The Rock River Times spoke with Bruscato about possible restitution of the missing funds and why no jail time was being sought. Bruscato said there was a difference between “recovery” and “discovery.” “The case is in the discovery phase,” he said. Questioned about the possibility of restitution, he replied: “That’s too early on. Right now, the case is proceeding through trial. Right now, she [Ohman-Knox] has a presumption of innocence.”

He said he would be available for future updates as the case proceeds.

From the Oct. 27-Nov. 2, 2010 issue

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