ROCKFORD, Ill. — A former Winnebago County purchasing director has been sentenced to two years in prison for stealing more than $440,000 from a program that received federal money.
Sally A. Claassen, 57, of Roscoe was sentenced Thursday in Rockford after pleading guilty in June to federal counts of embezzlement.
“I accept full responsibility for my actions,” she said in court. “My parents raised me to know right from wrong. This was a very bad mistake.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Margaret Schneider told the judge that Claassen “committed a very serious offense when she betrayed a position of trust in Winnebago County.”
The judge also ordered Claassen to pay restitution to the Winnebago County treasurer and a $5,000 fine, perform 100 hours of community service and serve one year of supervised release. Claassen has two weeks to pay the fine and restitution.
Prosecutors had asked for 30 to 37 months in prison. Claassen’s attorney asked for a maximum five years of probation.
“There’s no way to sugar coat what she did,” attorney Chuck Prorok said, calling his client’s behavior “reprehensible.”
Claassen’s husband, Kevin Claassen, testified that her time in prison “would probably take everything we’ve got. The house … all that we’ve saved is already gone.”
Claassen ran the county’s purchasing department from 1997 until she was placed on administrative leave and then resigned. County administrators accused her of using her county-issued credit card to buy personal items, including Florida vacations, kitchen cabinets and appliances for her home.
Claassen earned $96,000 a year.