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Former health department bookkeeper out on bail

MORRIS – Former Grundy County Health Department bookkeeper Renae Chronister turned herself in to Grundy County police and posted bail Wednesday after being charged with theft and official misconduct.

According to court documents, Chronister stole $47,041 in health department money over a two-year period from Jan. 1, 2010, to May 21, 2012. She was indicted Wednesday and a warrant was issued for theft and official misconduct.

Sheriff Kevin Callahan said Thursday that Chronister turned herself in to authorities Wednesday and posted $5,000 cash, which was 10 percent of her $50,000 bond.

Chronister’s attorney, Randy Gordon, said Thursday his client intends to plead not guilty and will push for a jury trial.

“I don’t think my client stole a penny,” Gordon said. “That’s why we’re pleading not guilty.”

Attorney Gary Dobbs also is representing Chronister, but was unavailable for comment Thursday.

Chronister was terminated from the health department in February 2013 and threatened to sue the county and the Grundy County Board of Health at the time of her termination, according to a previous Morris Daily Herald article.

The original investigation was prompted by audit findings showing discrepancies between the health department and treasurer’s office. Specifically, the audit showed cash being recorded within the health department, but not being deposited with the Grundy County Treasurer’s office.

Chronister was the subject of an investigation which included the Illinois Attorney General’s Office and she was indicted Wednesday on two counts — theft, a Class 1 felony, and official misconduct, a Class 3 felony.

“We started an investigation. The health department had found discrepancies and we started to look at their records for them and started investigating,” Callahan said. “It got to the point we needed a more in-depth audit.”

The official bill of indictment did not speak to specific evidence, but the grand jury found that “in furtherance of a single intention,” Chronister obtained “unauthorized control” over health department funds.

The Attorney General’s office was not immediately available for comment Thursday.

Chronister could face prison time if found guilty of the two counts.

Her next court hearing is scheduled for June 5 at the Grundy County Courthouse at 9:30 a.m.

• Morris Daily Herald News Editor Christina Chapman-Van Yperen contributed to this report.

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