Woman pleads guilty to theft from VFW, sentenced to 2 years probation

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RANTOUL, Ill. (WCIA) — A 76-year-old woman pleaded guilty Wednesday to stealing money from the Rantoul VFW while she worked there as a bar manager.

Brenda Wise was sentenced to 24 months of probation and was ordered by the court to pay $100,000 back to the VFW. She must also do 100 hours of community service.

A judge read out a statement of facts during the court session. The records say the thefts happened between May 2015-2019. Additionally, they say Wise knowingly took at least $100,000 in a series of transactions.

The amount she took was disputed in court. There was deliberation over whether it was $100,000 or $127,000. Both parties settled on the amount of $100,000.

In June 2019, there was a $7,000 shortfall on the books. Wise apologized and wrote a check for $7,000, which prompted the investigation. A forensic account then examined the shortfalls.

Employees were told by Wise to not reconcile the cash registers, according to statements read in court.

The woman was charged with a Class 2 felony. If she was not given probation, she could have faced 3-7 years in state prison.

Champaign County State’s Attorney Julia Rietz says “these are always frustrating cases.”

“We have to balance between punishing individuals by sending them to prison or giving them a chance to repay what oftentimes is a very significant debt,” Rietz says.

Wise told a WCIA reporter in court that she didn’t want to comment.

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