Tuesday, September 19, 2017

LaSalle County prosecutor accused of using asset forfeiture program as personal slush fund

LaSalle County prosecutor accused of using asset forfeiture program as personal slush fund, Metamora Herald

By Cole Lauterbach | Illinois News Network

An Illinois state's attorney has been indicted on charges alleging he used a now-illegal asset forfeiture program as his own personal slush fund.

Former LaSalle County State's Attorney Brian Towne is facing 17 counts of misappropriating funds and misconduct, according to multiple media reports. Towne allegedly spent more than $27,000 on a personal vehicle, internet service for his home and a trip to a convention in Las Vegas. He's also accused of accepting illegal teaching fees from the state during his time in office.

The Illinois Supreme Court ruled in June that the program Towne is now accused of taking money from was illegal. Dubbed State's Attorney's Felony Enforcement Team, or SAFE, the program brought in more than $1 million in its five years of existence.

ACLU Illinois attorney Ben Ruddell said asset forfeiture funds like what Towne was allegedly embezzling from are commonly abused.

"That illegal, ad-hoc police force was created to make a stream of revenue for Mr. Towne and his office to use and to play benefactor with in the community," Ruddell said. "There have been documented abuses and cases of systematic overreach."

Shortly after Towne lost the 2016 election, he was hired at the Illinois Office of the State's Attorney Appellate Prosecutor. Multiple sources report that he has been placed on administrative duties in the new job.

Towne did not respond to email requests for comment.

His court hearing is scheduled for Sept. 21.

from https://www.ilnews.org/news/justice/lasalle-county-prosecutor-accused-of-using-asset-forfeiture-program-as/article_d2e01d8a-970b-11e7-82f9-b77d4e527438.html

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