Villa Grove school board member due in court on theft charges
VILLA GROVE — A member of the Villa Grove school board is scheduled to appear in court on Nov. 4 following his arrests on two felony theft charges.
James L. Kestner, 49, who listed an address in rural Tuscola, was charged in Douglas County circuit court with felony theft over $10,000 and felony theft over $500.
In the first incident, Kestner was accused of obtaining more than $10,000 in cash by deception from two people between Oct. 3, 2011, and Sept. 11, 2012.
In the second incident, Kestner was accused of obtaining more than $500 in cash by deception from a different person on June 11, 2012.
According to court records, a warrant for Kestner’s arrest was issued on Sept. 18, and Kestner was arrested on Sept. 25.
Villa Grove school board President Steve Douglas told The News-Gazette on Saturday afternoon that Kestner was still a member of the Villa Grove school board.
According to an Eastern Illinois University website, Kestner is the chair of the university’s Department of Student Teaching and Clinical Experiences and is an associate professor in the university’s Department of Secondary Education and Foundations.
He also is the director of the university’s web-based and alternative teacher certification programs.
According to records in the Illinois Secretary of State’s Securities Department, on April 22, Secretary of State Jesse White signed an order permanently prohibiting Kestner from offering or selling securities in Illinois.
According to the order, Kestner allegedly purported to be in the process of producing and distributing a documentary film, written and directed by him, called “These Kids Today.”
Kestner allegedly provided a “film prospectus” to prospective investors in the film with the idea he would use money provided by the investors to produce and market the documentary.
In exchange for the investment, the investors were to receive their investment back, plus 20 percent interest in six months.
The order signed by White said that Kestner allegedly failed to register as a salesperson prior to the offer and sale of securities.
The order said Kestner is subject to a fine of up to $10,000 per violation, plus the costs of investigation and reasonable expenses.