Authorities: Former Elgin police officer stole $34,000 from police union

 
 
Updated 3/6/2018 4:36 PM
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  • Former Elgin police Sgt. William F. Wood Jr. is charged with felony theft and is expected to surrender to authorities within a week, according to the Kane County state's attorney's office.

    Former Elgin police Sgt. William F. Wood Jr. is charged with felony theft and is expected to surrender to authorities within a week, according to the Kane County state's attorney's office.

  • Kane County State's Attorney Joe McMahon, left, and Elgin Police Chief Jeff Swoboda discuss the grand jury indictment of former Elgin Police Sgt. William F. Wood Jr. Wednesday morning.

      Kane County State's Attorney Joe McMahon, left, and Elgin Police Chief Jeff Swoboda discuss the grand jury indictment of former Elgin Police Sgt. William F. Wood Jr. Wednesday morning. Harry Hitzeman | Staff Photographer

A former 25-year Elgin police officer was indicted Wednesday on felony charges he stole $34,000 from the police union while president and treasurer from 2007 to 2013.

William F. Wood Jr., 50, retired from the department last August and is expected to surrender to authorities on the felony charges, which carry a punishment ranging from probation to up to seven years in prison if convicted.

Wood, formerly of the 1200 block of Evergreen Lane, Elgin, lives in Louisiana, authorities said.

Kane County State's Attorney Joe McMahon and Elgin Police Chief Jeff Swoboda announced the charges Tuesday morning. Swoboda said the department received a tip in August 2017, investigated and brought their information to prosecutors.

Swoboda said he was "disgusted" to learn of the allegations against Wood, who also served as school resource officer at Elgin High School and was a sergeant in the technical investigations unit.

"He knew we were beginning our investigation into this and he tendered his resignation very quickly," Swoboda said, adding the charges against Wood should not diminish the work done by the department as a whole. "Being a police officer is difficult enough. We're the good guys. When actions are counter to that, it makes our job much more difficult."

Over the past several years, several former and current Elgin police officers have been charged with crimes such as identity theft, financial theft and misconduct by Kane County prosecutors.

"People make bad decisions. What I'm proud about is our department and our leadership does not shy away from (investigating) it," Swoboda said. "We address them head-on and don't make excuses for it."

McMahon declined to elaborate on what Wood spent the stolen money on, other than to say Wood "co-mingled" funds and used them for "personal expenses." McMahon said Wood is accused of breaching his "fiduciary duty" but not of official misconduct.

"(Elgin police) held a former police officer to the same expectation of any citizen accused of wrongdoing," McMahon said. "This office made decisions based on the facts of the investigation. They have high expectations for their fellow officers."

Elgin police officer and Union President Anthony Rigano said the union changed its bylaws effective in October 2017 to eliminate virtually all cash transactions, require two signatures on checks, and have a quorum of members vote on expenditures of more than $500.

"While it is never a positive experience to learn one of our own has committed a crime, especially when we are the victims of said crime, the process done in this case was the most appropriate for this type of situation," Rigano wrote. "All we as a union can do is fix the bylaws that govern our finances, which we have done, and move on, which we must do. This incident is clearly not a reflection of the (union) nor the Elgin Police Department, but rather the exception."

Wood's next court date will be set after he is booked at the Elgin Police Department or Kane County jail.

Gary Johnson, who is Wood's defense attorney, said his client is expected to surrender in about a week and had no other comment.

Wood's bail has been set at $30,000.

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