McLean County Board Chairman Matt Sorensen faces a federal fraud indictment. The document alleges Sorensen conspired with an outside consulting firm when he was an internal consultant at State Farm Insurance to engage in false billing for work never done. Sorensen allegedly personally benefited by more than $370,000 in the scheme. State Farm says it alerted federal prosecutors to the situation in 2012 and Sorensen has not worked for State Farm since.
McLean County State's Attorney Jason Chambers says his office is researching the ramifications. Chambers says past legal troubles by County Board members may not be a good guide.
"What we're dealing with is an allegation against a County Board Chairman, which could be considered legally different from an allegation against another board member who is not a chairman."
A statement from County Administrator Bill Wasson says there is no indication the allegations involve Sorensen's position with McLean County.
The news is sending waves of consternation through the county board. Member George Gordon says he is shocked and upset.
"It puts a crimp in obviously his functioning as Chair, but whether it is too serious a crimp for him to continue, I think it is first of all too early to tell, but second I am not willing to make that call."
Sorenson has not returned requests for comment.
Sorensen has been instrumental in the drive to increase mental health services in the county. Speaking on GLT's Sound Ideas, Mayor Chris Koos of Normal said he does not see those initiatives being jeopardized because Sorensen's attention will be drawn away from the effort.
"I don't think it's going to affect it one way or another because you have got to realize this is a community effort. There are a lot of players at the table. A lot of people have skin in the game, if you will, so I don't see it affecting that."
County Board member Eric Rankin says if there is a definition of being caught out of left field, the Sorensen indictment is one.
Rankin says it may be in Sorensen's best personal interest to step down from the board to devote time to his defense. Rankin says he is not ready to call for Sorensen's resignation.
All sources contacted for this story emphasize Sorenson is innocent until proven guilty.