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posted: 11/12/2013 4:39 PM

Former Antioch Rescue Squad treasurer pleads guilty to theft

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  • John Edgell

      John Edgell

 
 

The former treasurer of the Antioch Rescue Squad pleaded guilty Tuesday to a misdemeanor count of theft in Lake County court.

John Edgell, 55, formerly of the 40000 block of Deep Lake Road in Antioch Township, avoided jail time by agreeing to the negotiated plea in front of Lake County Judge Raymond Collins.

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As part of the agreement, Edgell is forced to pay $25,000 in restitution to the rescue squad while serving two years on probation. He also is required to perform 100 hours of community service, and is not allowed to have contact with the Antioch Rescue Squad.

Edgell posted $12,000 of the required restitution payment before the plea deal was finalized Tuesday, prosecutors said.

"I just wanted to get closure," Edgell said after the hearing. He would not comment further.

Edgell was the rescue squad's treasurer for about 10 years before his resignation in October 2012 amid charges of theft.

He was initially charged with felony theft after being accused of stealing a little more than $12,000 from the ARS. However, that amount increased to about $25,000 during the investigation, authorities said.

Edgell could have been sentenced up to seven years in prison had he been found guilty at trial.

His arrest closes another chapter on the troubled recent past at the rescue squad, which formed in 1940 and uses volunteers and contract workers to provide emergency medical care 24 hours a day in portions of Antioch Township.

Trouble started in May 2012 when a lawsuit surfaced that accused members of the rescue squad of sexually harassing three female squad members. Two of the three victims have since settled with the squad, though the amount has not been released.

A short time later, the Illinois Department of Public Health investigated ARS over allegations of unprofessional behavior that included mistreatment of patients, allowing employees to begin their shifts within hours of excessively drinking alcohol, and slipping medication in the food and drinks of fellow squad members.

The state later fined the squad $15,000, and the problems eventually led to the retirement of former chief Wayne Sobczak and the resignations of Edgell and former squad board President Steve Smouse.

Since then, the ARS board of directors has reorganized, and former deputy chief Brian Dekind has taken over as chief.

Dekind said he had no comment regarding Edgell's plea deal.

Despite the reorganization, the Antioch Rescue Squad and the village of Antioch eventually parted ways. The Antioch Fire Protection District now handles rescue calls inside the village, while the ARS handles calls in unincorporated areas in Antioch Township.

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