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Thursday, May 4, 2017 06:14 pm

Secretary of State official placed on leave

Investigation underway

Candace Wanzo, a high-ranking official in the Illinois Secretary of State’s office, is under investigation by the office’s inspector general and has been placed on paid leave.

The nature of the investigation isn’t clear. Wanzo, an administrator in the office’s vehicles division, earned $87,238 last year.

Wanzo was hired in 1999 even though she pleaded guilty in 1991 to embezzling more than $230,000 from Southern Illinois University while she was employed by the university. Her sentence for the theft isn’t clear from online court records, but sentencing was delayed after her mother collapsed in court when a federal judge said that prosecutors’ recommendation for 15-month sentence sounded fair, according to a 1992 story published in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The newspaper reported that Wanzo had testified that she spent the stolen money on cars, clothes, lingerie and vacations.

Henry Haupt, spokesman for Secretary of State Jesse White, confirmed that Wanzo has been placed on administrative leave, but he provided no details on why she is on paid leave.

“We are not able to provide specific information on personnel matters and investigations, other than to say we take all allegations of misconduct very seriously and investigate them thoroughly,” Haupt wrote in an email. “That is why we created a strong, independent inspector general’s office.”

Haupt wrote that Wanzo began work at the office in a secretarial position in 1999, the year that White became secretary of state.

“Secretary White is troubled by these recent developments,” Haupt wrote. “She was put on administrative leave, and he applauds inspector general Jim Burns and the secretary of state’s inspector general’s office for their efforts in this matter and cannot comment further until the investigation is complete.”

Contact Bruce Rushton at brushton@illinoistimes.com.

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