Ex-UI band director faces felony theft charges

URBANA — The former director of the University of Illinois Bands has been charged with felony theft in connection with the disappearance of instruments belonging to the UI.

First Assistant Champaign County State's Attorney Steve Ziegler said he filed two counts of theft over $10,000 on Friday against Robert R. Rumbelow, 48, who listed an address in the 2000 block of Byrnebruk Road, Champaign.

Ziegler, who has been reviewing stacks of reports from UI police and auditors for the last four weeks, said one of the counts relates to four clarinets valued at $5,500 each, that Rumbelow allegedly sold in June 2012 to a public school district in Nashville, Tenn., and pocketed the proceeds.

The other count deals with more than 20 other kinds of instruments, including clarinets, saxophones and trombones, that were delivered to Rumbelow around June 25, 2012.

"What happened to those, I have no idea," said the prosecutor. "They were last given to him and the university doesn't have them any more. He took them out of stock at the university."

Rumbelow, who had been a tenured music professor at the UI since 2010, resigned his position in August following the allegations that he sold the instruments and put the money he received for them into his personal accounts.

"He wasn't able to explain why he put it in his own account as opposed to putting it into a university account," said Ziegler. "One thing that will come out is that he said he was waiting until he collected about $50,000 and then he was going to move it over."

Rumbelow is expected to appear in court Tuesday to be arraigned on the Class 2 felony counts. If convicted, he faces penalties ranging from probation to three to seven years in prison.

He is now represented by Champaign attorney Mark Lipton, who said his client has relocated to Texas. UI police said Rumbelow has family in the Lubbock area. Rumbelow had been represented by Champaign attorney Dan Jackson, who was with Rumbelow in August when he repaid the UI some $86,000 that the University believed he owed the school. That was part of his resignation agreement.

Jackson said he and Rumbelow had a good working relationship but agreed, when it became apparent that felony charges were being considered, that Lipton might be better able to represent Rumbelow on the criminal charges. Jackson maintained that Rumbelow never had any intention of keeping the money he obtained from selling the instruments but planned to put the money back in to the music program.

Ziegler said there were also allegations that Rumbelow may have made unauthorized purchases on a UI-issued credit card. But since those did not rise to the level of the value of the allegedly stolen instruments, Ziegler said he opted not to file criminal charges on those.

Lipton said he intends to ask the judge Tuesday to allow Rumbelow to be able to leave the state as a condition of his bond.

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Bulldogmojo wrote on September 20, 2013 at 11:09 pm

Hopefully he will also be charged with selling stolen property and wire fraud in every jurisdiction he conducted the sale of stolen items in.