2020 Election: Carol Ammons


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SPRINGFIELD — Ten months after Urbana police first got a report of an alleged theft of a purse from a resale shop by State Rep. Carol Ammons, D-Urbana, a special prosecutor has determined he will not charge her with a crime.

“Four office special prosecutors were assigned to conduct thorough, independent reviews of all investigative reports, accompanying documentation and videos. They unanimously agreed there is insufficient evidence to meet the state’s burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt,” Patrick Delfino said in a press release issued Thursday.

Delfino is the director of the office that reviews cases referred by county state’s attorneys who have conflicts or the inability to handle prosecutions.

In January, Champaign County State’s Attorney Julia Rietz had asked now-retired presiding Judge Tom Difanis to appoint a special prosecutor to look into allegations that Ammons allegedly took a Coach purse, valued at $80, from the Carle Auxiliary Resale Boutique, 810 W. University Ave., U, on Jan. 7.

Workers at the store said Ammons was a frequent shopper there.

The auxiliary uses proceeds from the sale of upscale donated items, including clothing, accessories and home decor, to support the 12-bedroom Carle Auxiliary Guest House on West Church Street near the hospital. Relatives of intensive-care patients are allowed to stay there for free. The auxiliary also uses money from store sales for nursing scholarships.

When she requested the special prosecutor, Rietz said that prosecution of Ammons by her office could be a conflict of interest or could create the appearance of impropriety.

Rietz’s office is responsible for representing Ammons’ husband, Aaron Ammons, in his role as county clerk. Additionally, Rietz is a member of the local Democratic party, for which Carol Ammons now serves as chairwoman.

After taking the initial police report and collecting surveillance video from the store, Urbana police forwarded their information to Illinois State Police for further investigation.

Reached Thursday afternoon by The News-Gazette, Carol Ammons said the incident stemmed from a “simple mistake” where she thought the purse had been rung up by a clerk and the clerk apparently did not.

“I was clear that it was a mistake from the beginning,” she said of the case. “I’m glad they saw that and finally got rid of it.”

Carol Ammons was first elected to represent the 103rd Illinois House District in 2014 and was most recently re-elected earlier this month to another two-year term. She previously served on the Urbana City Council, as did her husband, and on the Champaign County Board.


Mary Schenk is a reporter covering police, courts and breaking news at The News-Gazette. Her email is mschenk@news-gazette.com, and you can follow her on Twitter (@schenk).

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