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Business owner faces felony charges



Nettleton
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Nettleton (click for larger version)
February 25, 2014 | 03:26 PM
ELKHORN — A Genoa City business owner is accused of stealing about $11,000 from an elderly man who suffers from dementia.

William B. Nettleton of McHenry, Ill., has been charged with felony theft, in an amount greater than $10,000, and misdemeanor obstructing an officer.

Nettleton, 51, owns a trucking company in Genoa City. If convicted of the felony, Nettleton faces up to 10 years imprisonment and $25,000 in fines.

On Feb. 24, during a preliminary hearing, Court Commissioner Zeke Wiedenfeld found probable cause to bind Nettleton over for trial.

Nettleton is scheduled for a March 5 arraignment in front of Judge David Reddy. He is free after posting a $1,000 cash bond.

During the hearing, Genoa City Police Chief Joseph Balog testified that the victim in the case is no longer able to care for himself.

According to the criminal complaint, Dr. Thomas Holmbrook reported that the victim is suffering from dementia with behavioral disturbances and was prescribed psychotropic medications. Holmbrook reports the victim “evidences significant cognitive impairment.”

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At the end of March 2013, the victim learned that his savings account had been closed and all of the money was removed, according to the criminal complaint.

Police obtained a subpoena to review surveillance footage from the bank.

Balog testified that he watched the footage and saw the victim and Nettleton enter the bank. Two separate withdrawals were made, and after the withdrawals were made, the video showed Nettleton putting the money into his pocket.

When police later talked to the victim, he said he didn’t remember going to the bank to make the withdrawals.

When Balog questioned Nettleton, Nettleton told Balog that he thought the money was a gift from the victim. Days after being questioned by police, Nettleton deposited the money into a bank account for the victim.

During the hearing, Nettleton’s defense attorney John Murphy argued that the charges should be dismissed because there was no probable cause to show that a felony was committed. He argued that for there to be a felony the defendant must intend to “permanently deprive the owner of possession of the property.”

“Within days, Mr. Nettleton returned every penny of the cash,” Murphy said.

Deputy District Attorney Joshua Grube argued that for the purpose of a preliminary hearing Wiedenfeld must look at the case in the light most favorable to the state.

“(Murphy’s argument) may be a defense at trial,” Grube said. “There is a theory consistent with probable cause.”

Grube also said he thought it was “telling” that Nettleton returned the money shortly after being questioned by law enforcement.

Case background

In April 2013, a Genoa City police officer spoke to Kelly Jenson, the social services director for Holton Manor, Elkhorn. The victim resides there.

Jenson told police she met with the victim and Nettleton in February 2013.

At that time Nettleton learned that because the victim had more than $11,000 in savings, he wouldn’t qualify for Medicaid.

Jenson told police that it appeared the victim didn’t understand what was happening during the conversation, and that Nettleton was asking all of the questions.

The victim in the case also reported that a firearm and his vehicle were missing.

On May 20, Balog questioned Nettleton, who said the victim needed to get rid of his money to qualify for Medicaid.

He said he knew the victim “bragged” about owning a firearm, but knew nothing more about it.

He also said he sold the victim’s car at an auto auction place in Crystal Lake, Ill.

On May 28, Nettleton turned a firearm over to an Illinois police department.

When the Illinois police officer asked why he didn’t return it to Genoa City police, Nettleton told the Illinois officer that he didn’t like the Genoa City police officers.

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