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County board members seek probe of Seyller, reporting of DUI records

Published: Saturday, June 22, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT • Updated: Monday, June 24, 2013 10:54 a.m. CDT

ST. CHARLES – Two Kane County Board members are calling for an investigation regarding the failure of the previous Kane County Circuit Clerk Deborah Seyller to send DUI and other driving conviction records to the secretary of state from 2002 to 2008.

Board member Mark Davoust, R-St. Charles, and Michael Kenyon, R-South Elgin, hand-delivered a letter Friday to Kane County State’s Attorney Joe McMahon’s office citing the irregularities.

Both are former chairmen of the Judicial Public Safety Committee, to whom Seyller reported when she was circuit clerk.

“Because this matter is a clear concern to public safety … we join together in asking you to immediately investigate these claims to determine what action, if any, is required to remedy this situation,” the letter states in part. “We further ask that you investigate whether any actions herein warrant further criminal investigation.”

Seyller dismissed their concerns as not important.

“C’mon, it’s Kenyon,” Seyller said. “As long as we reacted as soon as we found it, what’s to investigate?”

McMahon, who was not at his office when the letter was delivered, said he would not  comment.

“I have not seen it, “McMahon said. “Even if they are asking for it, I would not confirm it one way or another publicly.”

At issue are more than 1,000 convictions for driving under the influence and other serious driving offenses that did not get to the Illinois Secretary of State because of a computer glitch.

The records were being sent electronically, but once the problem came to light last fall, it appears about one-fourth of them did not get through, said Terry Montalbano, licensing administrator for the secretary of state.

Seyller’s office started going through 5,600 records by hand last year, a practice continued by current Circuit Clerk Tom Hartwell to get all of them recorded properly.

Hartwell said the office was up to date on current cases but still was going through the records from 2003 and 2002.

He had said earlier that 1,393 cases from 2005 through 2008 were found not to have gone through.

With the belated record-keeping, some drivers were being notified years later that their licenses were being suspended or revoked, because the enforcement had not occurred when the convictions actually happened, Montalbano said.

When Hartwell was elected in November, he said the by-hand review was ongoing and he did not see any need to inform the public about it.

“I just thought it was part of my job,” Hartwell said. “I did not think I should stand on a  soapbox and say how good I am doing. These things had to be reported, and the process of the internal audit was already being done.”

Besides, Hartwell said, from his perspective, the office needs a new computer system anyway, one that could work with the state’s attorney, public defender, court services and judges.

“We need to get moving ahead and get a new system in place and start that whole process,” Hartwell said. “My job is to keep and maintain the files. My first focus is to do that. It is secondary to me to send out press releases [announcing] ‘By the way everybody, look what a good job I’m doing.’ It’s just not my nature. I am focused on getting the job done.”

Kenyon said he was “totally disappointed.”

“I’m very disappointed that was handled so poorly,” Kenyon said.

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