Former Lake County coroner employee to serve probation for recording grieving teen while on job
A former employee of the Lake County coroner's office accused of making a secret recording of herself speaking to a grieving person while on the job in July 2018 has agreed to a plea deal to avoid a trial and a prison sentence.
Dana Dingman, 37, of Grayslake initially was charged with two felony counts of using an eavesdropping device without consent and one felony count of official misconduct.
Dingman pleaded guilty to one of the two felony eavesdropping counts and will serve 12 months' probation through the Lake County state's attorney's office's alternative prosecution program, spokesman Steve Spagnolo said Tuesday.
If Dingman completes the terms of the sentence, the conviction won't be on her record permanently.
Lake County State's Attorney Eric Rinehart said the sentence gives Dingman an opportunity to make amends with the community but also holds her accountable for breaking the eavesdropping law.
"She is not a law enforcement officer, and even if she was, she would have had to give notice that she was recording the interaction," Rinehart said.
In addition to serving a year of probation, Dingman must complete 30 hours of community service, participate in counseling, complete a course of behavioral choices and write a letter of apology to the victim. The other two charges against her were dropped as part of the deal.
The investigation into Dingman began last April when someone in the coroner's office found a video on an employee's county-owned laptop of Dingman telling a person that a family member had died, officials said.
The video appeared to have been taken from Dingman's cellphone in July 2018 and was made without the consent of the person with whom Dingman was speaking.
Coroner Jennifer Banek said the person Dingman recorded in the video was 16 years old at the time.
Banek said there is no standard operating procedure allowing the use of a recording device as part of employees' work. "Why she did it? That's the million-dollar question," she said.
When the video was discovered last April, Banek contacted the Lake County sheriff's and state's attorney's offices to conduct an investigation.
Lake County sheriff's Deputy Chief Christopher Covelli said Dingman never told investigators why she decided to record the video.
Dingman's attorney, Gregory Nikitas, could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
Dingman was fired from the coroner's office in June. She was indicted by a Lake County grand jury on the initial charges in July.