URBANA, Ill. (NEXSTAR) — A court-appointed special prosecutor is investigating whether or not there is probable cause to charge state Representative Carol Ammons, a Democrat from Urbana, for allegedly stealing a purse from the Carle Auxiliary Resale Boutique on Friday, January 10th.
The item, said to be a Coach purse, was worth an estimated $80, according to sources who were present. Those sources also say that wads of paper used to fill purses for display purposes were laying on a floor in a dressing room; the tag from the purse was also found on the floor.
Ammons’ legislative aide, Jenna Sickenius, emailed a statement on behalf of Ammons, calling the incident “a non-story about a simple misunderstanding.”
A secretary at Ammons’ government office in Champaign said Ammons declined to answer questions in an interview Friday.
According to court records obtained by WCIA, Urbana police referred the investigation to the Illinois State Police. Champaign County State’s Attorney Julia Rietz asked a judge to appoint a special prosecutor, citing a conflict of interest or the appearance of impropriety if her office were to prosecute the suspect.
The office of the Illinois State’s Attorneys Appellate Prosecutors was assigned to investigate the case.
When reached by phone, Director Pat Delfino said it would be “inappropriate to comment on a pending case investigation.”
“We’re dealing with a situation here where everybody involved is presumed innocent until proven guilty,” Delfino said.
The resale boutique shop accepts donations and operates as a charity to raise money for Carle nursing scholarships and to support the guest house.
Sources familiar with the incident say investigators are reviewing surveillance footage from inside the store. “Security investigated a report of retail theft from the Carle Auxiliary Retail Boutique captured on video and following protocol, notified Urbana Police,” a spokesperson for Carle Foundation Hospital said in an email. “We will continue to cooperate with law enforcement on its investigation.”
The Urbana Police Department declined multiple requests to disclose a police report to the media.
WCIA has filed requests under the Freedom of Information Act to obtain more details about the incident.
Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to include a response from Carle Foundation Hospital.