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Winnebago County Coroner, wife charged with forgery, theft

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#BREAKING: Winnebago County Coroner Bill Hintz and his wife are charged with forgery and theft, respectively. For more:

Posted by WREX-TV on Thursday, September 3, 2020

ROCKFORD (WREX) — Winnebago County Coroner William Hintz and his wife have been charged with forgery and theft.

The Winnebago County State's Attorney's office says Hintz is facing eight separate counts of forgery/altering a document, 4 counts of official misconduct, two counts of theft and two counts of conspiracy.

Hintz's wife, Michelle, faces 3 counts of unlawful use of a credit card, two counts of theft and two counts of conspiracy, according to the state's attorney's office. The alleged theft charges total more than $15,000 in funds, according to the state's attorney's office.

Authorities say an investigation into the charges began back in February of 2020. The state's attorney's office says the alleged thefts occurred April 7, 2018-July 6, 2020, according to the criminal complaint.

The state's attorney's office did not say if Hintz would be able to resume his post as coroner if he posts bail.

Hintz has been the coroner in Winnebago County since he was elected in 2016.

Hintz defeated Frank Fitzgerald at the time, a retired funeral director formerly with Fitzgerald Funeral Home and Crematory.

Both men were vying for the position following the retirement of then coroner, Sue Fiducia, who held the position for more than 20 years. Hintz served as her deputy chief coroner and was a long-time understudy.

Hintz is on the ballot for the 2020 ballot this November and is running unopposed on the Republican ticket. 

Hintz is the third Winnebago County employee in the past 5 years to be either implicated or under scrutiny for misconduct.

The county's former purchasing director, Sally Claassen, was released from federal prison in 2018 after pleading guilty in 2016 to embezzling more than $400,000 from the county for personal trips and furniture. 

In the same era, then-Winnebago County Board Chairman Scott Christiansen came under scrutiny after it was discovered that he had a sauna at his home that was paid for by taxpayer dollars. Christiansen says he was storing it there for the county, and says he did return it to the Public Safety Building.

After both cases, county leaders pledged for more transparency in county government.

*An earlier version of this article incorrectly described the case involving Scott Christiansen and the sauna inside his home. This article has been updated.

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Andrew Carrigan

Andy Carrigan is the Social Media & Digital Content Manager at WREX. He joined the 13 WREX team as a photographer in 2016 after graduating from Northern Illinois University. He also been a producer and Assignment Editor at the station.

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