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Thousands of DUI records from Kane County under review

ST. CHARLES – Former Kane County circuit clerk Deborah Seyller said in the fall that her office had about 5,600 DUI cases from 2002 to 2008 that had not been sent electronically to the Illinois secretary of state, as required, according to an official from the secretary of state’s office.

Officials said Seyller blamed a software problem with the circuit clerk’s Jano system. Jano owner Nosa Bridges said Kane County had not paid to update, maintain or repair its system in years.

Seyller did not return a message left at a business phone.

Terry Montalbano, licensing administrator for the secretary of state, said the problem came to light in September, when the office received a batch of old convictions from 2007 and 2008.

“We had a meeting with her Oct. 31, 2012, a telephone conference,” Montalbano said. “That was the first time I had an indication there was an issue. The past circuit clerk said there were approximately 5,600 cases from 2002 through 2008. They were going through the cases by hand in batches of 100.”

Montalbano said this sort of thing usually happens when an envelope of convictions falls behind a filing cabinet and is discovered later, not in that volume, nor over an extended period of years.

“The only thing she [Seyller] told us was they had an issue with their vendor,” Montalbano said. “Everything current was caught up, but they were working in batches of 100 by hand to catch up. ... We offered her [our] staff to go in and help and speed up the process. She declined.”

Montalbano said in a recent conversation, Tom Hartwell, the current circuit clerk, said the backlog was down to the years 2002 and 2003. 

Hartwell did not return a text message seeking comment, and his voice mail was full.

Earlier this week, Hartwell said he inherited the problem when he was elected in November and walked into the circuit clerk’s office Dec. 3.

Montalbano said not every DUI failed to get through, or state officials would have noticed.

The issue is important because as the keeper of records, the secretary of state is supposed to have driving convictions reported within a week, so the office can revoke or suspend licenses, record fines paid, community service and other requirements to get a license back.

Montalbano said anyone who is now getting notices of license revocations had not had adverse action taken against their license for that violation before.

“There is no magic formula,” Montalbano said. “When the record comes in, we have to go manually into every single record and take appropriate action. The good part of this, from the secretary of state’s standpoint, is that the new circuit clerk is aware of the situation, and we are going to work together.”

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