SPRINGFIELD — A former village treasurer in western Shelby County will be serving a prison sentence spanning almost two years. Former Tower Hill treasurer Nancy Finley received a prison sentence of 21 months on Wednesday for stealing more than $200,000 from the village.
In addition to the prison sentence, the 54-year-old Pana resident will have to pay restitution, per order by U.S. District Court Judge Sue E. Myerscough. The amount comes to more than $261,000 for the monies she had stolen, including fees and costs for the investigation and aftermath. Myerscough described the crime as “appalling.”
Finley refused to provide a comment or issue an apology when Myerscough gave her the opportunity to speak up.
Village president Watson issues victim impact statement
Village president Phil Watson would issue a victim impact statement. Watson cites that Finley’s actions have devastated the village’s finances. He adds that it was all a result of her theft and fraud schemes dating back years.
Watson continues to mention that Finley’s sustained theft from municipal coffers kept the village (pop. 650) from performing repairs and maintenance on its water infrastructure. Now, as a result of the cash deprivation that Finley caused, the village now faces excessively high bills to rebuild and replace rather than making repairs on equipment due to neglect.
“The cost to fix and upgrade things has been much higher than the ongoing maintenance cost would have been if we’d had the funds to keep them maintained all the years the village funds had been disappearing,” said Watson.
Watson adds that Finley could have stolen more than the $250,000 over a period of seven years. He additionally notes that no one will ever truly know. Moreover, he cites the reasoning as Finley doing a thorough job of trashing the evidence.
“Mrs. Finley put quite a blow to us even after she left,” added Watson. “She erased most computer files, including all the water and sewer bills history, and she irreversibly compressed the accounting files on QuickBooks and destroyed any backup files. The number of hours that have been spent to recreate the items lost and the financial impact of not having these details is staggering.”
Watson describes the village as comprising of mostly seniors living on Social Security benefits. Additionally, he states that her crimes impact the already struggling community “more than she will ever know.”
Prison sentence to be served concurrently, not consecutively
Sentencing took place as a result of Finley pleading guilty on Feb. 7 to three counts of wire fraud. The original sentence was to be 21 months for each count. However, the sentences will now be run concurrently. This is according to a plea agreement negotiation by attorney Daniel L. Fultz.
The negotiation received a reluctant approval from Myerscough as Finley received her sentence via video conferencing inside Fultz’s office in Springfield.
“I believe cases like this are appalling,” said Myerscough.
Myerscough adds that she believes that the revised Federal sentencing guidelines were too light on white-collar crime. She further adds that it was too light, considering that Finley had left “devastation” in her wake.
“Quite frankly if this were another time, not in the middle of a pandemic, I would reject your plea,” the judge added.
Myerscough mentions her respect to Fultz and Federal prosecutor Crystal Connie Correa. Noting Finley’s otherwise-clean criminal record, she would reluctantly accept the plea deal agreed by both attorneys.
Finley received a break on restitution – but not much
Myerscough stated that she would give Finley a break on the restitution demands. The agreement states that there would be no imposition of interest on restitution or additional fines. However, there would be the attachment of an additional $100 “assessment” charge to all three counts.
Fultz states before the court that he is not trying to excuse what Finley had done. The minimum sentencing recommendations would give Finley an opportunity to find work after prison and begin making restitution payments.
“It is unlikely in the course of her remaining work history she’ll ever be able to repay that, but at least she will be able to do what she can,” he added.
If Finley were to pay roughly $261 per month after prison release, it would take more than 83 years to pay off the full restitution.
Finley became the village treasurer in 1998 and stole money from the village between 2009 and 2017, according to court documents.
Court documents would also reveal Finley’s use of a computerized billing system to cover up her crimes while stealing money from other accounts. The investigation and grand jury indictment revealed that cash was moved around utilizing wire transfers to her personal bank account.
Troubles are far from over for Finley
Finley’s legal troubles are far from over. A theft charge is awaiting its day in court in Shelby County circuit court. Finley’s case in 2017-CF-107 is for the theft of funds over $100,000 from the village.
The case has been reset nine times since 2018 while going through the Federal case. A preliminary hearing is currently on the judicial calendar for Aug. 24.
While Fultz is not the representing attorney in the county case, he expects the dismissal of county charges as a result of sentencing in the Federal case. Finley is represented by Liz Nohren of Shelbyville-based firm Dove & Dove.
Jake Leonard, a broadcast media and journalism veteran, is the editor-in-chief of Heartland Newsfeed. Leonard is also GM and program director of Heartland Newsfeed Radio Network, wrestling editor and contributing writer for Ambush Sports, a contributing writer for My Sports Vote and Midwest Sports Network, and a former contributor to Bleacher Report and Overtime Heroics. He resides at home in Nokomis, Ill. with his dog Buster.