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Iroquois County clerk convicted on corruption, forgery charges

Friday September 18, 2009

Mark Henrichs County Clerk of Iroquois County Illinois was convicted Thursday night of eight felony charges for a scheme that prosecutors termed a "web of lies." That bilked taxpayers out of $17,500.

A jury deliberated for almost four hours before the verdict was read just in Iroquois County Circuit Court. The jury convicted Henrichs of four counts of official misconduct, and two counts each of forgery and theft of government property.

Henrichs was stripped of his title of county clerk immediately, State's Attorney Jim Devine said. Elected officials are not allowed to be convicted felons,

Sheriff Eldon Sprau told reporters outside the courtroom that a decision would be made "very soon" on whether to change the locks at the county clerk's office in the Administrative Center in Watseka, and whether to "seize" Henrichs' office in preparation for a possible audit.

A sentencing hearing was set for Nov. 6. Henrichs faces a possible prison term, although prosecutors said they have not ruled out allowing probation. Henrichs' term was set to expire Nov. 30, 2010.

Henrichs took the stand Thursday as the defense's only witness testifying.

He repeatedly denied any wrongdoing under questioning by both his attorney, Frank Simutis of Watseka, and Mary Bucaro and Neal Goodfriend of the state attorney general's office.

Throughout the three-day trial, prosecutors presented evidence to show that Henrichs arranged for the county clerk's office to buy a camping trailer for use as a mobile-voting facility in February 2007, while hiding from county officials that he owned it. They presented evidence that Henrichs forged documents to make it appear the trailer was purchased from a Chicago car lot when he knew it was not.

Henrichs, a Republican who has been county clerk since Dec. 1, 1998, walked out of the courthouse without speaking with reporters.

Iroquois County’s acting Clerk and Recorder Lisa Fancher of Gilman is the choice to fill the Henrichs' un-expired term. Fancher will be appointed to fulfill the term which runs thru November 30, 2010. Henrichs remains free on bond pending sentencing.

For more on this please read: Iroquois County Clerk Indicted on Multiple Felony Charges