Metro-East News

She checks vanity plates for the state. Now she’s under investigation.

Candace F. Wanzo, 55, of Centralia, heads the Secretary of State office that decides whether to approve vanity plate applications in Illinois.
Candace F. Wanzo, 55, of Centralia, heads the Secretary of State office that decides whether to approve vanity plate applications in Illinois.

The woman who runs the office that determines whether vanity license plate applications will be approved or barred because they’re obscene or objectionable is under investigation.

Candace F. Wanzo, 55, of Centralia, has been placed on paid administrative leave because of unnamed allegations that have come to the attention of Secretary of State Jesse White, according to Dave Druker, head of communications for the department.

“Secretary White is troubled by these recent developments,” the statement said. “We are not able to provide specific information on personnel matters and investigations other than to say we take all allegations of misconduct very seriously and investigate them thoroughly,” the statement said.

Wanzo did not respond to a written request for comment left at her home. She could not otherwise be reached.

The unnamed allegations have so far been investigated by the inspector general for the Secretary of State and the office of Illinois Inspector General Jim Burns.

In 1991, Wanzo pleaded guilty in federal court in East St. Louis to embezzling $234,000 from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, where she worked in the bursar’s office. According to BND reporting from the time, Wanzo wrote checks for phony vendor costs to cover her thefts.

She was sentenced to 15 months probation, but current online U.S district court records are essentially devoid of data on the case, except to mention that records were sent to storage in Chicago in 1999.

Wanzo was originally hired in 1999 as a secretary but worked her way up to a position described as “executive five” that provides her with a salary of $87,336.

Druker, the department spokesman, described Wanzo as “... a hard working employee (who) earned the trust of her co-workers and superiors,” according to his statement.

Federal court records show that Wanzo successfully filed for bankruptcy in 1993 and 2004 in the Southern District of Illinois.

George Pawlaczyk: 618-239-2625, @gapawlaczyk

Beth Hundsdorfer: 618-239-2570, @bhundsdorfer

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