ST. CHARLES – A former police officer is charged with stealing about $34,000 from the police union he led, Kane County State’s Attorney Joe McMahon said at his monthly media briefing March 6, right after the indictment was handed down.
Former police Sgt. William Wood Jr., 50, formerly of Elgin and most recently living in Louisiana, was charged with felony theft that allegedly took place between 2007 and 2013 while Wood served as president and treasurer of Police Benevolent and Protective Association No. 54. He could face a sentence of probation or up to seven years imprisonment, McMahon said, citing co-mingling of funds and the use of union funds for personal expenses.
At the briefing, Elgin Police Chief Jeffrey Swoboda said he was “disgusted” by Wood’s alleged crime.
“We find out that one of our own is stealing money,” he said. “Being a police officer is difficult enough, getting community trust, trying to make sure people realize we’re the good guys. When actions are counter to that, it makes our job more difficult. It won’t overshadow the great work the officers do every single day.”
Swoboda said the current union president informed his office in early August that suspicious spending had come to light. An investigation began, and Wood retired in mid-August.
The union will tighten up its internal controls, Swoboda said, noting that no taxpayer money was taken and that the alleged theft entailed money from donors and union membership dues.
He said Wood served about 25 years with the Elgin department, including roles with the narcotics division, as a school resource officer at Elgin High School and, most recently, with the technical investigation unit.
“Despite the individual personal shortcomings of one officer, the Elgin Police Department performed professionally when they became aware of this [and] held a former officer to the same standard and expectations of any other citizen who is accused of wrongdoing,” McMahon said.
Election complaint line
Kane County voters who observe or experience voting problems or irregularities during the March 20 primary election should call the Kane County State’s Attorney’s Office to report any problems at 630-208-5328. It is a hotline that will be available from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. March 20.
The hotline is to deal with problems such as possible electioneering, illegally placed campaign signs or denial of voting rights at any of the county’s 288 voting precincts.
McMahon said a team of assistant state’s attorneys will be on hand to respond to Election Day complaints and will visit precincts in person to check compliance with election law and make sure electioneering isn’t taking place.
The hotline is not for general election information, such as polling times and places, which is available at the Kane County Clerk’s Election Help Line at 630-232-5990. McMahon said people also can call the clerk’s office directly about problems they may have trying to vote.
Law Enforcement Academy
McMahon encourages interested youth ages 14 to 18 to register for the Law Enforcement Academy offered by his office in partnership with the Aurora Police Department from June 18 to Aug. 1.
“It’s an opportunity for young adults … to learn about police work,” McMahon said. “They’ll [also] have contact with federal [and] state law enforcement, prosecutors, judges and defense lawyers to get a 360-degree perspective of the criminal justice system.”
The six-week program is limited to 50 participants. To learn more, call academy director Pam Bradley at 630-406-7325 before May 4.