Public Official Caught Embezzling Public Funds

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A Stephenson county official has been arrested for embezzling thousands of dollars in public funds. Investigators say that this corruption inside the Stephenson County Clerk's Office involves one man, 62-year-old Roger Kulhemeier.

He was arrested on Wednesday for stealing nearly 30 thousand dollars in taxpayer dollars. The Stephenson County State's Attorney said that this embezzlement has been going on for more than a year, but Kulhemeier was finally caught when the County Clerk noticed that deposit receipts weren't adding up.

"I can't believe he would do such a thing," said Viki Otte, Stephenson county clerk.

Otte contacted the Sstate's Attorney Office two weeks ago with suspicions that one of her employees was stealing funds from her office. After doing an audit of deposit receipts for more than a year; Otte discovered that her suspicions were correct.

"I have spent the entire weekend going over receipts and the more I looked the more it became apparent that the money was missing," said Otte.

Working with the Illinois State Police, the Stephenson County State's Attorney Office conducted a probe of the County Clerk's office for about a week, before arresting Kulhemeier. Kulhemeier had been a Deputy Clerk with the office for nearly three years. It was his responsibility to take daily deposits from the county clerk's office to the bank across the street, that's when investigators believe the money disappeared.

" That's what we believe happened, but we are still investigating, and I can't go into further pending the trail," said Mike Bald, Stephenson County State's Attorney.

Kulhemeier is being charged with a felony theft of over ten thousand dollars. The state's attorney's office says that Kulhemeier embezzled $29,820 from the county clerk's office from April of 2002 to June of 2003. Sources close to the investigation tell 23 News that Kulhemeier has confessed to stealing the money, but has yet to disclose where the money is, or if he spent it.

"We are still trying to figure that out, right now we don't know where the money is," said Bald.

I went to Kulhemeier's house in Freeport to give him a chance to respond to these charges but there was no one home. Investigators say that most of the funds that have been stolen were taken from tax redemption deposits, property owners pay at the office. But the clerk says that all of that money has been properly credited to each residents account.

Kulhemeier is out of jail on ten thousand dollars bond and is expected to have a preliminary hearing later this month. If convicted Kulhemeier could spend up to 7 years in prison. The county clerk has since installed safeguards and a better tracking method of cash deposits to better account for this money.