Former Charleston city planner pleads innocent to a federal wire fraud charge

Former Charleston city planner pleads innocent to a federal wire fraud charge

URBANA — A federal grand jury has charged a former city planner for the city of Charleston with embezzling more than $22,000 from a nonprofit organization.

Jeffrey A. Finley, 51, currently of Kerrville, Texas, pleaded innocent on Wednesday to one count of wire fraud during an appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge David G. Bernthal.

U.S. District Judge Michael P. McCuskey will preside over the trial, which has been scheduled for Sept. 17.

According to the indictment, Finley was a member of a professional nonprofit organization called Code Enforcement Officials of Southern Illinois, a group of municipal employees who administer and enforce building and related codes.

He served as the group's treasurer from at least early 2003 to September 2007. Finley opened and maintained a checking account in the organization's name at a bank in Charleston.

According to the indictment, Finley allegedly wrote more than 30 unauthorized checks of up to $500 on the Code Enforcement Officials of Southern Illinois' bank account payable to himself between 2004 and 2008, cashed the checks and used the money for himself.

In addition, the indictment alleges Finley made more than 25 unauthorized online electronic disbursements from the checking account to make payments on his personal credit and charge accounts, including payments to MBNA Bank and Macy's.

The case was investigated by the state police and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard N. Cox.

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