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updated: 3/12/2018 4:42 PM

Probation, fines for former state worker who cared for Kane County seniors

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A 29-year-old Hampshire woman who was indicted on felony charges that she falsified time sheets while working for the state to care for Kane County seniors has been sentenced to two years of probation after pleading guilty to a reduced charge.

Nikki Neal, of the 1200 block of Tuscany Trail, pleaded guilty Friday to one count of misdemeanor theft and must pay $915 in court fines and costs, according to court records.

Judge D.J. Tegeler accepted the guilty plea in which prosecutors dismissed other, more severe charges, such as theft between $5,000 and $10,000 from the government, a felony that carried a top penalty of seven years in prison.

Neal and another former state worker, Joyce Banner, 32, of Chicago, were indicted on similar charges in fall 2016.

They were accused of submitting false time sheets while working as home service providers through the state's Department of Human Services.

The providers serve seniors and people with disabilities by helping with tasks such as cooking and cleaning.

Banner was admitted into the county's Deferred Prosecution Program in fall 2017, which is for first-time, nonviolent felony offenders. People in the program plead guilty, stay out of trouble for a year or more and prosecutors eventually vacate the guilty plea and dismiss the case if the defendant completes the requirements.

Neal was accused of submitting false or forged time sheets from April 2011 through August 2014, according to authorities and court records.

The case was prosecuted through the attorney general's office, which never specified an exact amount Neal was accused of stealing nor whether Banner and Neal worked together in the scheme.

Neal's plea agreement is different, as she will have a misdemeanor on her record. If Neal violates her probation, she can be resentenced to up to a year in jail. A message left with her attorney, Brandon McNulty, was not immediately returned.

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