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People v. Cornille





Appeal from the Circuit Court of Massac County; the Hon. William Lewis, Judge, presiding.


Defendant, Emil "Jim" Cornille, was found guilty by a jury of two counts of official misconduct in the office of sheriff of Massac County. Defendant was sentenced to a term of 30 months' probation and three months' periodic imprisonment and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $22,516.44. On appeal, defendant argues that: (1) the pleadings were insufficient; (2) he was not proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt; and (3) he is entitled to a new trial due to evidentiary or procedural errors. We affirm defendant's convictions.

The following was adduced at trial. Clinton English, the treasurer of Massac County, testified that the proper method to be used by the defendant in payment for the official charges incurred by him as sheriff of Massac county was for defendant to present his bills to the county treasurer, who would approve and pay them. The testimony of Mr. English further indicated that defendant had not turned in all his fee money to the county treasurer as he was required to do.

Dale Cougill and Eddie Cockrell, both Massac County commissioners, testified that in 1979 the county board, the State's Attorney and the defendant held a meeting concerning a crackdown on illegal drugs. At this meeting, money for purchasing information concerning illegal drugs was discussed. According to Mr. Cougill and Mr. Cockrell, $500 was to be set aside and no additional funds for such purpose were authorized by the county.

Gary Willaredt, a special agent of the Illinois Department of Law Enforcement, Division of Criminal Investigation, testified that he was assigned to investigate an allegation of misappropriation of funds in the Massac County sheriff's office which allegedly occurred between September 1980 and August 1982. In the course of Special Agent Willaredt's investigation, defendant made a statement that he had control of three bank accounts: a soda account, petty cash account and a fee account. These accounts were located in the First National Bank and City National Bank, in Metropolis. When questioned about depositing fees which came into his hands for his fee account, defendant indicated that he did not deposit between $15,000 and $17,000, which he used for the purchase of information. Defendant, according to Mr. Willaredt, appeared shocked to learn that an audit had revealed that in excess of $22,000 was unaccounted for. Special Agent Willaredt further testified that bank records regarding the sheriff's fee account indicated that there were a number of checks which should have been deposited in the account by defendant but were not. Additionally, an unreported bank account in the sheriff's name was discovered at the Brookport National Bank in Brookport, and some checks made payable to the sheriff of Massac County had been deposited in the account. This account also contained defendant's personal funds.

Three bank employees, Hal Rush, a secretary-cashier of the First National Bank in Metropolis and Tom Pullen, its vice-president, together with Ann Hutcherson, a bookkeeper for the Brookport National Bank, testified for the State concerning various bank records which were admitted into evidence. Essentially, these witnesses stated that pursuant to a subpoena they made copies of bank records kept in the ordinary course of business. Additionally, Jerry Rowe, Sarah Matyi and Allen Wehrmeyer, all certified public accounts, testified for the State. Mr. Rowe related that he made an audit of the Massac sheriff's office in 1979 and as a result sent a letter which reminded defendant of his duty to turn over all fees to the county treasurer on a monthly basis. Ms. Matyi testified that she attempted to conduct an audit of the Massac sheriff's office in 1982. She said she received information concerning the sheriff's soda, petty cash and fee accounts but was never shown a statement of an account in the Brookport National Bank. Ms. Matyi stated that she received insufficient information from the sheriff's office to complete an audit. Mr. Wehrmeyer testified that he audited the Massac County sheriff's office in 1980 and 1981 and received no documentation of defendant's account at the Brookport National Bank.

Geraldine Makee, a certified court reporter who recorded the grand jury proceeding, testified that defendant told the grand jury names of persons to whom he had made payments for information regarding illegal drugs. She stated that defendant stated to the grand jury that he paid money to Rex Harwood and the Bruce brothers for information regarding illegal drugs and that defendant also indicated that money was dispersed for an investigation of the Kaylor and Agee farms. According to Mrs. Makee, defendant also stated to the grand jury that he wrote receipts to himself after paying cash to a drug informant but he could only approximate the amount spent.

Rex Harwood testified that he refused to sign a receipt presented to him by defendant which falsely stated that Mr. Harwood had received money for information regarding illegal drugs.

Sam Dunning, an Illinois State police officer, testified that he had worked on a case involving a marijuana field known as the Kaylor case and defendant never mentioned any money being paid for information concerning that case.

Oliver Wells, a farmer, testified that he called the Massac County sheriff's office to report marijuana growing on the Agee farm but received no money for this information.

Phillip W. Ray, the court reporter at defendant's preliminary hearing, testified that defendant told the court that he could not reveal the names of his informants because it could endanger the informants' lives. Defendant further advised the court in camera that he had records indicating that he had paid for information concerning illegal drugs; however, he failed to produce them after being granted a recess to obtain these records.

Paul Stratmeyer, a member of the Massac County Board, testified that in December 1982 the county board met with auditors for the purpose of locating funds which had not been turned over to the county treasurer by defendant. Mr. Stratmeyer stated that defendant told him that he had turned all his money over to the treasurer and made no mention of using money from the sheriff's office for other purposes.

William Bruce testified for the defense that between 1980 and 1982 defendant had paid him $300 and $400 for information concerning illegal drugs.

Donald Lowery, the former State's Attorney of Massac County, testified for the defense. He said that during the meeting with the county commissioners in 1979 concerning a crackdown on illegal drugs, fees for services of informants were discussed. It was Mr. Lowery's recollection that no ceiling was put on the amount of money which could be used to ...

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