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No charges against Dixon city engineer

DIXON – The former Dixon city engineer who spent more than $13,000 on personal expenses with a city-issued credit card will not face criminal charges.

Lee County State’s Attorney Anna Sacco-Miller said Friday that she will not bring charges against Shawn Ortgiesen.

Ortgiesen, who also was the city’s personnel and public works director, resigned after it was revealed April 8 that he racked up $13,521.14 in personal expenses on the card from April 2007 to March.

Sacco-Miller said nothing in the investigation was considered “criminal in nature,” after reviewing the evidence with Sterling Police Lt. Tim Morgan. The case was given to Sterling Police to avoid any conflict of interest.

Dixon officials said Friday they felt the decision was fair.

At the time his misuse of the city credit card was revealed, Ortgiesen had paid back $4,890.31, meaning he owed $8,630.83. With his resignation April 16, he attached a check for the remaining balance and interest calculated at 5 percent, totaling $9,157.38.

As common practice, Ortgiesen filed requisitions recording his credit card expenses.

On the 31 requisitions received by Sauk Valley Media through a Freedom of Information Act request, Ortgiesen wrote “to be reimbursed” next to several items on 27 of them, noting the expenses were for personal purchases, which included hotel expenses, meal charges and cash advances, among other items.

City commissioners or Dixon Mayor Jim Burke signed off on at least six of those requisitions. The others were not signed.

“The evidence showed that Mr. Ortgiesen did not conceal or hide the charges,” Sacco-Miller said in an email Friday to Sauk Valley Media. “In fact, the evidence showed that he obtained permission from his superiors for the charges and ultimately paid all the charges back to the city.”

Sacco-Miller said she would not have been able to prove theft or official misconduct beyond a reasonable doubt.

To prove a theft, she said, she must prove Ortgiesen took money without authority and that he did so with the intent to “permanently deprive the city of its use of property.”

“He was given authority to charge for personal use as long as he paid it back,” Sacco-Miller said. “He ultimately paid all of the charges back with interest.”

To prove official misconduct, she said, she would have to prove that he exceeded his authority or violated an official policy.

“As he had permission from his superiors and there was no official credit card policy, I don’t, in good faith, believe I can prove this charge as well,” the state’s attorney said.

She added: “’Borrowing’ without permission is always a crime no matter how you look at it. However, if you are given authority by the person who has control over the property, and you return the property as you agreed when you borrowed it, it is not a crime.”

No grand jury was sought for the case, Sacco-Miller said, because there has to be “some belief that a criminal act occurred.” She doesn’t feel the probable cause existed in this case.

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