- Associated Press - Thursday, May 26, 2016

ROCKFORD, Ill. (AP) - A former Winnebago County purchasing director faces two federal counts of embezzlement for allegedly taking at least $10,000 and possibly as much as $450,000 from government coffers.

U.S. Attorney John MacKenzie filed a criminal complaint in federal court Wednesday against Sally Claassen. The two counts, covering the calendar years of 2014 and 2015, each allege she embezzled at least $5,000 from the county.

Claassen, who had run the county’s purchasing department since 1997 used her county-issued credit card to buy about $60,000 worth of personal items, including resort vacations and kitchen cabinets, countertops and appliances for her home, before she was placed on administrative leave in August, county administrators have said. She resigned Sept. 11.

A forfeiture action included with the counts seeks the forfeiture of nearly $451,353 in embezzled funds, including $292,525 already seized by FBI agents in December from bank accounts controlled by Claassen and her husband.

Claassen’s attorney, Chuck Prorok, told the Rockford Register Star his client is cooperating with the FBI investigation.

“It has been a difficult ordeal for her and her family,” Prorok said. “She’s holding up and hopefully this chapter in her life will come to a conclusion relatively soon.”

County Board Chairman Scott Christiansen said he was surprised by the scope of Claassen’s alleged theft.

“The idea was to do a thorough investigation, and the FBI has certainly done that,” Christiansen said. “We’ve done everything according to Hoyle from our end while this has been in the FBI’s hands. Hopefully, we get to a conclusion very soon. What’s paramount to me and to everyone in the county is that we make sure that restitution is made.”

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