Ex-Kane County court clerk accused of stealing from office

Former Kane County Circuit Clerk Thomas Hartwell has been charged with official misconduct, accused of spending nearly $120,000 in county funds on a campaign event and taking kickbacks from a St. Charles business owner.

Hartwell was indicted Tuesday on felony charges of theft by deception greater than $100,000, seven counts of official misconduct, six counts of wire fraud, a count of money laundering, a count of government employee misapplying funds, and three counts of income tax fraud, according to a news release from Kane County State's Attorney Jamie Mosser.

Mosser asked the Illinois State Police's Special Investigations Unit in January 2021 to investigate, and it did in conjunction with the Illinois Department of Revenue.

They allege the activity happened from December 2018 to November 2020.

Hartwell is accused of paying Gutierrez Productions Inc. and Dar Illuminations LLC to promote a May 2020 event that was billed as a personal protective equipment/care package giveaway, but it was actually a political event. According to a news release for the event, Hartwell conducted it at a church to which he belongs, and people were to be given masks, hand sanitizer, food and Oberweis milk.

The charges allege Hartwell received $15,000 in kickbacks from the president of the business, Robert Gutierrez of St. Charles.

The charges also allege that Hartwell failed to report income on his 2018, 2019 and 2020 income tax returns.

Gutierrez, 73, was indicted Tuesday on theft by deception-greater than $100,000, six counts of theft by deception-$15,000 to $100,000, and two counts of providing kickbacks.

Both men are free on $2,000 personal-recognizance bonds. Their next court dates are May 26 before Judge John Barsanti.

Besides the mask-giveaway announcement, Gutierrez Productions' website has news releases publicizing case expungement information events, and one advising victims of domestic violence that the clerk's office was still working during the COVID-19 lockdown in 2020 and that it could continue to file petitions for orders of protection.

Kane County finance records showed 13 invoices for DAR Illuminations and Gutierrez Productions in 2019 and 2020. Purposes were listed as "public relations" and "marketing," and some were billed to court clerk subaccounts for customer service, human resources and records support. A $29,875 invoice for "COVID outreach" was billed to a subaccount "film conversion/binding," according to the county records.

Hartwell has not replied to a request for comment left with his office.

Thomas M. Hartwell
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