Former Kendall food pantry treasurer pleads guilty to stealing from it

The former treasurer of the Kendall County Food Pantry pleaded guilty Monday to stealing from the pantry.

Kenneth Spaeth agreed to spend 24 months on probation, perform 30 hours of community service and repay the pantry $14,340. He will also pay court fees and a fine.

Spaeth declined to comment.

Special prosecutor Charles Colburn told Kendall County Judge Timothy McCann that there was evidence Spaeth's late wife, Maria, had taken "several hundreds of thousands" of dollars from the food pantry but that it could not be "criminally attributed" to Kenneth Spaeth.

But $14,340 worth of charges he made with a food pantry credit card given to him by Maria were attributable, Colburn said. He said Maria Spaeth did not have the pantry's permission to give her husband the credit card.

Spaeth was a volunteer for the food pantry, which was run by his wife, also a volunteer.

In the spring of 2016, volunteers told Yorkville police and State's Attorney Eric Weis that the pantry was missing as much as $200,000. At one point in June 2016, it had no money.

The Spaeths resigned their positions after Yorkville police searched the pantry and their home and took boxes of financial records.

Several weeks later, Maria Spaeth died of drug intoxication at the couple's second home at Lake Holiday near Sandwich, Illinois. Tests show she had ingested hydrocodone, acetaminophen and Xanax, which were prescribed to her.

The DeKalb County coroner said the manner of death was undetermined but that he had not found a high amount of pill capsules in her stomach. He said he couldn't be definitive because Kenneth Spaeth refused requests to be interviewed.

His father-in-law, William Crowley, is still on trial on a charge of theft. Crowley, who lives in Arizona, did not attend his court hearing Monday.

The cases are separate, and each has his own lawyer. Crowley's attorney told the judge that he expects that case to be "resolved" April 23.

Meanwhile, Crowley is being sued by the reorganized pantry, the Kendall County Community Food Pantry. It wants him to repay it more than $25,000 it alleges he stole. The civil suit, filed Feb. 28, accuses him of civil theft and alleges that he used a food pantry credit card over 200 times to buy food, gasoline, tires and other goods. It includes about a dozen purchases at a Home Depot store in Arizona.

"I don't believe anyone is outright happy for this outcome, just relieved the chapter is ending and closure is at hand," Greg Witek, chairman of the food pantry's board, said in a statement about the guilty plea.

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Kenneth M. Spaeth
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