A federal grand jury has indicted the former Zeigler city treasurer on five counts alleging wire fraud and embezzlement.
Donald S. Boyce, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Illinois, says the indictment against Ryan A. Thorpe, 44, of Zeigler relates to events that occurred while Thorpe was treasurer and charges that from March 4, 2013, through Aug. 3, 2017, Thorpe embezzled more than $300,000 by writing checks to himself drawn on the city of Zeigler's general account.
The indictment further alleges that Thorpe concealed his thefts from the city of Zeigler by altering the copies of the checks that were sent to the city each month by the city's bank. According to the indictment, Thorpe "whited out" his name in the payee section of these checks, wrote in the names of vendors and suppliers that the city did business with, photocopied the altered checks, placed these photocopies in the bank records kept by the city, and then shredded the copies of the checks with the "white out."
In addition, the indictment states that Thorpe further concealed his thefts by submitting false monthly treasurer's reports to the Zeigler City Council. The council formally removed Thorpe during a recent meeting.
Thorpe is charged with three counts of wire fraud and two counts of embezzlement from a local government. Each of the wire fraud counts carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Each count of embezzlement from a local government carries a maximum sentence of 10 years of imprisonment and a $250,000 fine.
The indictment also seeks forfeiture of numerous items Thorpe is alleged to have purchased with embezzled funds. Those items include two side-by-side utility task vehicles, two motorcycles, a portable building, lots in the city of Zeigler, a utility trailer, numerous firearms and a lady's diamond ring.
Thorpe's arraignment will be at 11 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 19 at the federal courthouse in Benton.