ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Former Winnebago County Coroner Bill Hintz plead guilty to two charges against him in court Wednesday, following accusations of stealing from dead people and using the County’s credit card.
Hintz plead guilty to two counts: Theft of Government Property and Official Misconduct. He will spend 6 months in jail with 4 years of probation.
The Illinois Attorney General has accused Hintz of stealing $14,500 in cash belonging to deceased individuals, taking $2,500 from family members of the dead in exchange for county-funded cremations, and Hintz and his wife were previously accused of stealing $15,818 in government funds. He has paid the county back, and will also lose $130,000 in his pension.
Hintz also officially resigned his position as Winnebago County Coroner. He apologized to the court, county officials, his office’s staff and citizens.
Since Hintz is an elected official, he could not be removed from office.
Senate Bill 3460 would have allowed local governments to remove elected officials from office if they have been charged with a crime.
The bill unanimously passed through the Senate in February but was defeated in the House.
Winnebago County District Judge Joseph McGraw said that there was one word missing from Hintz’s statement.
“It really is a betrayal of your oath of office. It’s a betrayal of everyone who voted for you,” McGraw said. “It’s a betrayal of everyone who supported you in your election and it speaks to the wider problems society wide people are losing confidence in elected officials.”
Hintz’s wife, Michelle Hintz, is due in court on Thursday, July 21st for a deferred prosecution, meant for first-time, non-violent offenders, and could keep a conviction off her record.
Winnebago County Board Chairman Joe Chiarelli must appoint a replacement coroner within 60 days. That appointee will serve until the next general election is held, in November 2022. The Democratic and Republican committees will then nominate a candidate to appear on the November ballot. The winner of that election will serve as Winnebago County Coroner until November 2024.