Rockford, Illinois News

Coroner says he will not resign amid criminal allegations

ROCKFORD — Winnebago County Coroner Bill Hintz will not resign amid allegations that he and wife used a county credit card to make personal purchases, his attorney told media Tuesday.

Hintz, 50, has pleaded not guilty to charges of forgery, theft, conspiracy and official misconduct Tuesday. When those charges were announced last week, County Board Chairman Frank Haney and county Republicans called for his resignation. His lawyer, Mark Byrd, says that isn’t going to happen.

“Why would an innocent man leave a job that he loves?” Byrd told reporters outside the courtroom.

Winnebago County State’s Attorney Marilyn Hite Ross also responded, saying whether Hintz leaves office will be determined Nov. 3, when voters take to the polls and decide whether to give him another four years in office.

“All individuals charged are presumed innocent until or unless proven guilty in court,” Hite Ross said in a release. “This is an ongoing criminal investigation. The possible penalties are listed in the charging documents. The criminal case will proceed through the criminal justice system and all court dates are available via Circuit Clerk Tom Klein’s website. Currently, Mr. Hintz remains in the Office of the Coroner and remains on the November ballot. I will not speculate regarding his future tenure in that office. That decision remains with the electorate of Winnebago County.”

Hintz, a Republican, is running unopposed. Before winning the seat four years ago, he served deputy under Coroner Sue Fiduccia, who retired after 20 years.

According to prosecutors, between Jan. 30 and Feb, 2 of this year, Hintz, 50, and his wife, 50-year-old Michelle Hintz, used a Winnebago County credit card to make $15,000 worth of personal purchases, including hotel stays. Authorities further alleged that Hintz attempted to cover up the purchases with fake receipts.

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