- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 3, 2016

BENTON, Ill. (AP) - A former bookkeeper for a small southern Illinois fire protection district has admitted to stealing more than $450,000 in taxpayer money.

Tammy Kellerman, 53, of Pinckneyville pleaded guilty Tuesday in federal court in Benton to four counts of mail fraud, according to a news release from James Porter, acting U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Illinois. She faces up to 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release on each count, The Southern Illinoisan (https://bit.ly/1nGMrp6 ) reported.

Kellerman stole the money from the Pinckneyville Rural Fire Protection District between 2004 and 2013, and then used the swindled funds to pay her personal credit card bills and other expenses, the release said.

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan announced in August that Kellerman has been charged at the state level in relation to the same crime. She also is charged with theft of government funds of more than $100,000, filing a fraudulent Illinois income tax return, computer fraud, wire fraud and official misconduct.

A pretrial hearing for the state-level charges is set for Feb. 23. Kellerman could potentially serve time in both state and federal prison.

Kellerman also will be required to pay full restitution to the Pinckneyville Rural Fire Protection District.

She’s scheduled to be sentenced May 24 on the federal charges.

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Information from: Southern Illinoisan, https://www.southernillinoisan.com

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