Police: Former worker cost RI County $2,915

Originally Posted Online: March 06, 2014, 6:42 pm
Last Updated: March 07, 2014, 1:48 pm
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By Rachel Warmke, rwarmke@qconline.com

Police reports released Thursday detail $2,915.33 prosecutors say Rock Island County lost as a result of theft by a former highway department employee.

The documents say James W. Geiger, 58, while employed as an assistant foreman with the highway department, used county labor, fuel and materials to complete a personal landscaping project at his Milan home in July and into the fall of 2012.

On numerous occasions, the reports say Mr. Geiger directed members of his highway crew to transport tandem truckloads of dirt and other materials, which he used to complete a yard expansion on his property.

At a news conference on Thursday, Rock Island County State's Attorney John McGehee said the Rock Island County Sheriff's Department launched an investigation, lead by Lt. Ron Erickson, after complaints of thefts were made by "disgruntled employees" within the highway department.

Mr. Geiger, a 35-year veteran of the highway department, was indicted by a grand jury in July 2013 on felony counts of theft and official misconduct.

On Wednesday, by agreement of attorneys and Judge Walter Braud, he was placed in the Offender Initiative Program, a form of probation which effectively dismisses the case without judgment if Mr. Geiger remains out of trouble, abides by all probation conditions and appears in court on March 6, 2015.

As part of the agreement, Mr. Geiger resigned Wednesday from his job.

He will not be required to pay back the $2,915.33, but has returned $27,679.67 in wages he received while on administrative leave as well as paid a $500 fine.

"Jim Geiger was treated as any other defendant that appears in court and that I prosecute," Mr. McGehee said. "He had no criminal history, and he had lived a law-abiding life until this incident with the county."

The prosecutor said he agreed to Mr. Geiger's participation in the Offender Initiative Program, which has accepted 36 other participants since its inception last year. Mr. McGehee said he believed Mr. Geiger's loss of his job and wages, being criminally prosecuted and serving a year of probation were severe enough penalties.

"He got the message that you cannot commit crime and you cannot take from your employer," Mr. McGehee said.

Investigators were unable to determine if this was an isolated incident or whether similar malfeasance had occurred in the past, Mr. McGehee said.

Mr. Geiger was identified by the state's attorney's office as the "strongest case" for criminal prosecution, Mr. McGehee said, adding his office did not intend to file charges against any other highway employees in relation to the theft allegations.


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