By Jim Hagerty
ROCKFORD – Leilani Hillis, the ex-vice president of operations for the Rockford Area Economic Development Council, was sentenced to federal prison Tuesday for stealing more than $600,000 from the organization.
U.S. District Judge Philip G. Reinhard sentenced Hillis, 60, to 37 months behind bars for mail fraud and 36 months for tax fraud, sentences she will serve concurrently. Hillis was also ordered to pay restitution in amounts of $632,718.99 and $151,186.91 for the respective offenses and serve three years of parole. She pleaded guilty in March.
Over a 10-year period, Hillis used a company-issued credit card to make personal purchases and concealed the crime by using accounting codes that made the purchases appear authorized. She forged the president’s initials on expense reports and issued and signed checks from the organization’s bank account to pay for the unauthorized charges, checks she failed to report.
Hillis started with the Rockford Area Economic and Development Council in 2001. She was fired last year. As vice president of operations, she oversaw facilities, human resources, accounting and the annual audit. She was signatory on the bank account and controlled RAEDC’s PayPal transactions.