A veteran Normal Police officer is accused of stealing—and then trying to return—$12,000 in cash from the residence of someone who overdosed last week.
Brian Williams, 46, is charged with official misconduct and theft, authorities said Sunday. Normal Police said Williams is on administrative leave pending an internal investigation.
Williams, an 18-year veteran of NPD, allegedly stole the cash Nov. 25 after responding to a 911 call at a Normal residence. One person at the scene later died at the hospital from an apparent drug overdose.
A relative of that person later contacted Normal Police and reported $12,000 was missing, prosecutors said in court Sunday. On Nov. 27, two days after the money went missing, the relative began receiving calls from an unidentified phone number. On Nov. 28 (Thanksgiving), the relative spoke to the unknown caller, who said he "knew of the location of the stolen money but that the relative needed to drop the investigation and quit speaking to the police in order to have the money returned," prosecutors said.
NPD referred the case to State Police. With State Police in the room, the relative agreed to meet the caller at a Pontiac gas station Friday, Nov. 29.
State Police set up surveillance of the gas station and saw Williams act suspiciously and leave the cash in a phone booth, prosecutors said. Shortly thereafter, the relative received a call stating that the money had been left for the relative to pick up, prosecutors said. State Police arrested Williams at the scene.
State Police are handling the criminal investigation, with Normal Police running its own parallel internal investigation.
"The Normal Police Department holds the public’s trust in the highest regard and will work diligently to complete a thorough and effective investigation," Normal Police Chief Rick Bleichner said in a statement Sunday. "The department urges everyone to not rush to judgment and to allow time for the process to run its course and come to a factual conclusion before making any judgements.
"We will address this issue as expeditiously as possible while ensuring all policies and procedures are followed, in order to best serve our citizens and safeguard the public’s confidence," Bleichner said.
State Police confirmed Sunday that its Champaign-based Zone 5 Division of Criminal Investigation was asked to investigate a "Public Integrity issue which had come to (NPD's) attention last week."
"The investigation is ongoing and no further information is available at this time," a State Police spokesperson said Sunday.
Williams was in court Sunday and was appointed a public defender. He was being held on a $30,000 personal recognizance bond, records show.
Williams is due back in court Dec. 20.
Williams' annual salary as of Jan. 1 was $86,459, according to town records.
Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect where the person died. Coroner Kathy Yoder says the person was pronounced dead at the hospital, not at the residence, as prosecutors initially said.