Peoria County has financial concerns over public defender spending

Apr 17, 2014

Peoria County officials say they have serious financial concerns over the way its public defender service was managed.  Peoria Public Radio’s Alex Rusciano reports that’s according to documents heading to committee members next week:

 The documents say longtime head public defender Thomas Penn used grant funding to pay his wife tens of thousands of dollars over a four year period. The documents also say that Penn failed to provide adequate financial records or reimburse office expenses as required by state statute.  The findings came about as the County was gathering financial information earlier this year to effectively bid out the public defender service.  Peoria County Administrator Lori Curtis Luther says that prompted her to refer the concerns on:

 “I have been working in cooperation with the State’s Attorney in our efforts to reconcile the accounting,” Luther says.

 Peoria County’s Public Safety and Courts Committee is set to discuss the issue further at its meeting next Tuesday.  The news comes a day after the 10th Circuit appointed local attorney Jeff Flanagan to replace Penn as temporary head public defender for Peoria County.  Penn’s term as public defender is set expire at the end of the month.