FBI to take over investigation of RAEDC employee accused of financial misconduct

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Winnebago County State’s Attorney Joe Bruscato announced at a press conference on Thursday that the investigation into an employee of the Rockford Area Economic Development Council for financial misconduct has been handed over to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The Rockford Area Economic Development Council’s CEO and President Nathan Bryant previous announced that Vice President of Operations, Leilani Hillis, was the employee suspected of embezzlement at a press conference last Thursday.

Hillis, an 18-year veteran of the company, is suspected of siphoning off $500,000 over the course of 10 years.

Discrepancies in the company’s financial record were discovered by a routine audit. Prior to this, Hillis had overseen the auditing process, which allegedly allowed her to cover up her crimes.

Hillis’s employment with the company has been terminated. 

“We are disheartened and disturbed by this discovery and are committed to doing everything in our power to maintain the trust and respect of our public and private investors, partners and community,” Bryan said in an earlier press release.

The city of Rockford contributes $150,000 dollars a year to RAEDC. Mayor Tom McNamara says the alleged misuse of public funds was disappointing, but believes the organization will continue to attract jobs and industry to the area.

“We don’t need something like this to weaken their focus and I don’t think that’s going to happen. I’m encouraged again by the quick response of their board,” he said. Winnebago County also makes a contribution of $100,000 dollars to RAEDC annually.

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