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Crime & Courts

Amount of overtime in former deputy auditor pay case uncertain

Defendant offered to pay money back

Former La Salle County Deputy Auditor Tori Artman testified Tuesday she was paid for overtime she didn't work and she twice offered to pay it back.

When she was questioned by Ottawa police detectives, she estimated it was about 50% of the overtime she was paid that she didn't work, but she wasn't certain. Detectives also didn't know how much overtime she was paid that she didn't work.

Artman, 44, of Mendota, is charged with theft of $1,358.88 in pay between Oct. 24, 2016, and Aug. 7, 2017, along with official misconduct. She is represented by Mendota lawyer Todd Martin.

Closing arguments for the jury are scheduled 11 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 14, in Judge Cynthia Raccuglia's courtroom. A jury was selected Monday and attorneys presented their cases Tuesday in the Ottawa courtroom.

When the defendant was asked about whether she worked the overtime by detectives and in speaking with her union representative, she offered to pay back the amount she didn't work, according to testimony corroborated by detectives and her union representative.

Prior to Artman taking the stand Tuesday, her lawyer Martin asked for a directed verdict from the judge. Raccuglia declined the request, saying she must view the prosecution's case in the most favorable light.

Martin said the prosecution presented no evidence to how much pay was taken that wasn't earned. During Ottawa Police Det. Capt. David Gualandri's testimony, he said the defendant had admitted to not working about half of the overtime on her timecards, so he did not examine each time card to determine how many or which hours were not worked.

Assistant State's Attorney George Mueller said the $1,358.88 was based off Artman's statement to police and that amount more than surpasses the $500 threshold for the charges filed. He also said the law does not require an exact amount.

Raccuglia said she would have granted Martin's request if Artman had not made her statement to police estimating how much overtime she was paid for — and the jury should get to decide on the merit of the evidence.

Artman said La Salle County Auditor Jody Wilkinson, who was her supervisor, was putting overtime she didn't work on her time card without her knowledge. Payroll supervisor Marge Fanning testified Artman's time cards had overtime written in different color ink than Artman's and the ink was the same color as Wilkinson's. Artman said she didn't notice the disrepancies in pay and read her pay stubs about once every two months to look only at her sick or vacation time.

The defendant said when she found out overtime was being added, she was scared and didn't know what to do.

Artman is the first of two former auditor employees to go to trial on the overtime theft charges. Pamela Wright, 54, of Ottawa, also is charged with receiving $1,672 in pay for overtime work prosecutors said she didn't perform. Wright is scheduled for trial Monday, Aug. 26, with a pretrial hearing set for 10 a.m. Friday, Aug. 23.

Artman and Wright met with their union representative Vicky Leadingham, who testified the two asked her to speak with the state's attorney on their behalf about their supervisor adding overtime to their timesheets. Artman said it was suggested to her that meeting with her union representative might help.

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