A former treasurer for a small Southern Illinois city was sentenced to four years in prison for stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from the city to buy ATVs, motorcycles, guns and a diamond ring.
Each month for four years, Ryan Thorpe, 44, would write checks to himself, drawing money from the the City of Zeigler's general account, according to federal prosecutors. He'd alter copies of the checks to hide the thefts, whiting out his name and covering it with vendors and suppliers the city worked with. He ended up stealing more than $300,000 and used the funds to buy expensive items for himself and family members.
The thefts began shortly after Thorpe started his job as city treasurer, something U.S. District Judge Staci Yandle found troubling, according to a news release from federal prosecutors. Yandle said his crimes were motivated by "absolute and unadulterated greed."
"The seriousness of your crime cannot be overstated," Yandle told Thorpe at sentencing Tuesday morning.
She said public corruption like what Thorpe did destroys public confidence in government and the democratic process.
"We feel that the sentence imposed by the court today appropriately addresses the seriousness of Thorpe's criminal conduct," said U.S. Attorney Donald Boyce. "Officials who steal from the citizens they are elected and appointed to represent commit a gross abuse of public trust. It's our hope that lengthy prison sentences like the one imposed today will serve to deter other public officials from defrauding their constituents."
Along with his prison sentence, Thorpe will have to pay $321,399.22 in restitution to Zeigler and its insurance carrier. He also had to turn over to the city items he purchased with the stolen money. He relinquished a side-by-side Utility Task Vehicle, two motorcycles, a utility trailer, a woman's diamond ring, numerous firearms, a gun safe and a drone, for a total value of $35,872.74. He was given credit toward his restitution in that amount.
Thorpe also has to turn over a second UTV, a portable building, a lot and trailer located across the street from his house in Zeigler, five additional Zeigler vacant lots, two IRAs valued at $9,000 and a camper to the U.S. Those items will be sold, and the money will be applied to the restitution amount he owes.