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Local News

Police report: Candidate admitted to forgery

‘I guess I just wasn’t thinking clearly’

Lauren Staley-Ferry
Lauren Staley-Ferry

Candidate for Will County Clerk Lauren Staley-Ferry, D-Joliet, told an investigator in 2002 that she did fill out a check from her employer and deposited it into her personal account, according to a police report.

Scottsdale Police Officer Sherry L. Cross-Cano filled out the report in August 2002 and spoke to Staley-Ferry, then named Lauren Staley, as well Michael Hingston, who was Staley-Ferry’s boss at Independent Capital Group Inc., Alesa Kerr, her roommate, and Fred Ferguson of Harris Bank & Trust, the bank that managed the company’s account.

In the report, Hingston told the officer he was on a trip to Scotland between July 13 and July 23 in 2002. Before he left, he paid some bills from his business checking account with Harris Bank & Trust.

On July 24, Hingston noticed that one of the checks was missing but had not been logged, and he thought it was an oversight. In an interview Monday, Hingston said his certified public accountant alerted him to the handwritten payroll check made out to Staley-Ferry. He also said such checks never were handwritten.

The report says that by the time Staley-Ferry returned from Scotland, she already had resigned from her job and moved to Wisconsin with her then-boyfriend to live with his parents. She had worked as a receptionist and processing assistant for the company starting around November 2001.

Staley-Ferry’s last day of work was Aug. 15, 2002, the report states.

After Staley-Ferry left, an auditor discovered the missing check had been written to her and deposited into her Bank One account, the report says. Hingston told the officer only he and his wife could write the check and that neither of them did and no one else had permission to do so.

The report says Hingston obtained a copy of the check and that his signature had been forged. The check was made to Staley-Ferry for $500 and was dated and deposited while Hingston was out of the country, the report says.

The report also says that in November 2002, the officer made contact with Staley-Ferry over the phone and asked if she recalled the incident that occurred at Independent Capital Group in July.

“Oh, are you calling about the $500 check?” Staley-Ferry said, the report says.

The officer asked Staley-Ferry to explain what happened.

“Well, I was given a check, but I guess it was my fault for depositing it,” Staley-Ferry said in the report.

When the officer asked if she had a $500 check deposited into her account, the report says that Staley-Ferry responded, “Correct.” The officer then asked her if she made the deposit and she again said “Correct.”

Staley-Ferry told the officer she received the check from someone else who worked there named Wayne Reese, the report says. She then confirmed to the officer that the check was not filled out when she received it.

“I filled it out,” Staley-Ferry said to the officer, according to the report.

The officer claimed that Staley-Ferry confirmed she filled out the whole check, including the signature block.

Staley-Ferry went on to explain to the officer that she wrote a letter and sent a check for $250 to Hingston to pay him back, the report said. The officer asked her why she would fill out the check and deposit it into her own account.

“I guess I just wasn’t thinking clearly,” Staley-Ferry responded, according to the report.

The report said Staley-Ferry told the officer she was having “extreme financial problems and needed the money to help out.” She went on to say she was sorry for what she had done and that she would send the remaining $250 when she received her next paycheck.

The officer informed Staley-Ferry that she would recommend charges for forgery and theft.

Hingston told the officer he had not received the letter or the check. He also said he was reimbursed for his losses by Harris Bank & Trust and the bank would pursue charges against Staley-Ferry.

“You try to take care of people and provide them a living,” Hingston said on Monday. “And they stab you in the back like this.”

In 2003, Staley-Ferry was charged with felony forgery in Maricopa County. After she failed to appear at a hearing, a warrant was issued for her arrest, according to court documents. In September 2003, the court entered a plea of not guilty to all charges on behalf of the defendant.

In an interview on Thursday, Staley-Ferry denied filling out the check and said in a statement released on Saturday that she plans on staying in the race for Will County clerk. Staley-Ferry serves on the Will County Board representing District 9.

The case was dismissed in 2012 without prejudice because prosecutors could not locate Staley-Ferry.

Staley-Ferry’s campaign declined to comment Monday on the police report.

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