Sunday, September 19, 2010

Pontiac, Illinois library to review hiring policies after theft charges

The Pontiac Library Board likely will review its hiring policies after a recent investigation into embezzlement allegations against a former director showed he had a previous conviction. Eric Colclasure, 42, of Pontiac has been charged with stealing more than $10,000 from the city library. He remains jailed in lieu of posting $10,000.Prosecutors allege Colclasure misdirected rent checks paid by Heartland Community College to the library between April and June. The Normal-based college rents a portion of the library building, 211 E. Madison St., for its satellite campus.The charges against Colclasure allege that he deposited rent checks into an Odell Public Library account. Colclasure also served as Odell's library director independently of his job in Pontiac. City attorney Alan Schrock said Pontiac and Odell libraries are separate entities and do not have any agreements in place that would share funds or personnel.Assistant State's Attorney Scott Terry said police are conducting an investigation into Colclasure's activities at the Odell library, but he has not received any final reports. Schrock said he advised the library board to improve its hiring policies more than a year ago. The library is operated by a board separate from the Pontiac City Council, but it is supported through a tax levied by the city. Colclasure started working at the library part time but was hired last year as director. A background check that would have detected his 2003 felony conviction from Cook County was not completed when Colclasure was hired. Schrock said the board only learned of Colclasure's previous felony conviction Tuesday when Colclasure appeared before a Livingston County judge for a bond hearing. "I advised them long before yesterday's development that we need to review the hiring practices," Schrock said. Schrock said the position of library director was not responsible for handling any money, but authorities say Colclasure may have intercepted checks in the mail. "We have a treasurer who is responsible for that (handling money)," Schrock said. "Now, the financial controls we have in place helped us detect what was happening quickly." The misdirected money was returned so the library and the city did not suffer a financial loss.

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