Former Wapella Township Road Commissioner pleads not guilty to all counts

CLINTON — A Wapella area man had his first appearance in DeWitt County Court Tuesday morning, accused of defrauding Wapella Township.

In a case brought by the Illinois Attorney General’s office, Eldon Cusey faces 22 counts that include official misconduct, forgery and deceptive practice.  In his capacity as Wapella Township Road Commissioner, Cusey allegedly used the township’s credit card to charge tens of thousands of dollars for his personal use.

On Tuesday, Cusey pleaded not guilty on all counts before DeWitt County Circuit Judge Karle Koritz.

With his attorney Mark Johnson present, and after the court provided Cusey with a hearing device, he answered Koritz’s questions regarding his understanding of his legal rights and obligations.  Cusey said he understood.

Mara Somlo, of the Illinois Attorney General’s office, said she intended to file a motion for discovery.  Koritz informed Somlo that DeWitt County automatically provides for discovery.  Discovery ensures attorneys have access to information and facts of a case.

Cusey waived his right for a preliminary hearing, which would require the state to show probable cause, clearing the way for Koritz to set a trial date beginning at 9 a.m. on May 15.

He set Cusey’s personal recognizance bond at $3,000.  Cusey was not required to pay a cash bond but could be liable for the $3,000 if he failed to show up for his trial.  Koritz allowed Cusey to travel out-of-state for employment.  The state did not object.

In May 2022, the Wapella Township Board asked Cusey to resign and pay restitution for thousands of dollars in fraudulent charges it claimed Cusey made using the township’s credit card.  Minutes of the board’s May 10, 2022 meeting showed the board discussed the credit card charges.  Minutes also showed Cusey agreed to resign and paid restitution of $27,253.

• See the complete story in the Friday, Mar. 17 print edition of the Clinton Journal or Wednesday in the Journal E-Edition for subscribers.

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