Public corruption task force officers of the Illinois State Police have raided offices at the Madison County Administration building.
An official who works in the building and spoke on condition of anonymity indicated that a deputy was standing guard outside the office of Chairman Kurt Prenzler, and that police tape was up against several offices including those of administrator Doug Hulme, IT director Rob Dorman, communications manager Cynthia Ellis and Bruce Cooper.
The Madison County State’s Attorney’s Office issued a press release Wednesday evening stating that in the later months of 2017, they received evidence of possible illegal conduct by unnamed county officials.
“Based on the information provided through multiple sources and individuals, State’s Attorney Tom Gibbons called for the formation of a special investigative task force, comprised of members of multiple state and local law enforcement agencies to investigate the allegations and determine the extent of any wrongdoing,” the release states.
The search warrants executed Wednesday “are the result of significant evidence developed by the Madison County Public Corruption Task Force, as part of a larger, ongoing investigation,” it continues.
Due to the “highly sensitive nature of the investigation,” further information will be released at “such time as is legally appropriate.”
The State's Attorney's Office was directing all calls regarding the search to Lt. David Vucich with the Madison County Sheriff's Department. Vucich could not be reached Wednesday afternoon despite several attempts to contact him.
Prenzler told the Record that while the County Board office was included in the raid, his personal office was not searched.
Prenzler said he had come back from lunch at around 2 p.m. when he saw that there was yellow crime scene tape around a number of offices and there were sheriff's deputies exercising search warrants.
Officials conducting the searches included sheriff's deputies, task force officers and an officer from the Granite City Police Department, Prenzler added.
He said he doesn't know why they were there, but he was given an evidence log of about 30 items - mostly computer equipment from various offices, including Hulme's office.
He said there is a complaint, which prompted the raid, that he expects to receive at an unspecified later time.
Prenzler said the deputies were there for a couple of hours.
County Clerk Debra Ming-Mendoza said she witnessed deputies removing equipment from the office right across from hers, which belongs to Ellis.
She said she watched deputies hang crime scene tape and begin raiding Ellis' office and the County Board office.
"It was alarming," she said. "Because I thought there had been a threat to the building or something."
Ming-Mendoza said she was reassured by officers that there were no threats to the employees and that everything was fine.
"We just kind of went back to doing business as usual until they walked past my gate with equipment," she added.
Ming-Mendoza said roughly 20 minutes later deputies were walking out of Ellis' office with computer equipment.
Hulme, Dorman and Ellis could not be reached at their offices late Wednesday afternoon.