Clerk for Fairview charged in theft of fee payments

News-DemocratDecember 16, 2013 

A clerk for the city of Fairview Heights was charged on Monday with theft and official misconduct after police said she was responsible for the theft of more than $10,000 in impound fees.

Patricia J. Ostendorf, 43, of 205 S. Jackson in New Athens, was charged by St. Clair County State's Attorney after an investigation by the Illinois State Police.

"The Fairview Heights Police took quick action to make sure the integrity of their department was upheld," said St. Clair County State's Attorney Brendan Kelly. "No city likes to have these issues, but the only way to deal with alleged misconduct is to confront it and not tolerate it and that's what Fairview Heights did."

Fairview Heights Police Chief Nick Gailius said as part of the city's internal auditing process, it was discovered in mid-August that several thousands of dollars were missing from the police's impound collection.

After a two-week internal investigation, Gailius said they determined that fees were being collected by the police department but never made it to the city clerk's office.

Ostendorf, a police records clerk, was in charge of reconciling the fees, which range from $150 to $400 per occurrence.

Gailius said he fired Ostendorf on Aug. 28.

"We have excellent internal controls in place and when we discovered the discrepancy, we took immediate action, fired the employee and called the Illinois State Police," Gailius said.

The thefts occurred between May 16, 2012, and June 27 of this year, according to the charges. The amount of the thefts totaled between $10,000 and $100,000, the charges stated.

Ostendorf's bail was set at $30,000.

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