Centralia woman pleads guilty to federal fraud, theft from IL State employer

SPRINGFIELD, Ill — A 58-year-old Centralia woman pleaded guilty Friday in U.S. Federal Court in Springfield to part of a federal indictment accusing her of defrauding the Illinois Secretary of State’s Office and the Illinois Department of Revenue of nearly $350,000.

Candace Wanzo, a former high-level employee of the Secretary of State’s Office, pleaded guilty Friday to counts 1,  4, and 5 of the five-count federal indictment.

Count 1 charges her with fraud, and Counts 4 and 5 charge her with theft. A second count of fraud and a third count of theft were dismissed per the plea agreement.

The three guilty counts say that for approximately 9-years – starting on or about 2008 until on or about May 2, 2017, Wanzo stole title and registration fees and sales tax payments made to her office and then concealed the theft by replacing stolen funds with title and registration fees from other vehicle owners.

Wanzo is scheduled to be sentenced on the charges on March 15, 2021, in Federal Court in Springfield. She remains free on $10,000 recognizance bond.

Wanzo could face up to 20 years in prison on each Count 1 charging her with fraud and up to 10 years on the two counts of theft.

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation with the assistance of the Illinois Secretary of State Inspector General’s Office who had referred the matter to federal law enforcement.

Wanzo was placed on administrative leave in May 2017, when an investigation was launched by the Office of the Inspector general.

At the time the investigation was launched, Wanzo was an administrator in the vehicles division and has worked for the Secretary of State’s Office since 1999, and earned more than $87,000 annually.

According to court records, Wanzo pleaded guilty in 1991 to embezzling more than $230,000 from Southern Illinois University while she was employed there.