SANGAMON COUNTY — A 58-year-old Centralia woman was sentenced Thursday in U.S. Federal Court in Springfield to 18 months in prison after she previously pleaded guilty 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, was sentenced to 18 months each on counts 1, 4, and 5 of the five-count federal indictment to be served concurrently. Her prison sentence will be followed by 3-years of mandatory supervised release. She was ordered to pay more than $72,500 in restitution.
Count 1 charged her with fraud, and Counts 4 and 5 charged 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.
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.
Defense attorney Howard Feldman said during Thursday’s sentencing hearing, that “As a crime, this makes no sense. What she’s lost in pension benefits far exceeds what she ever would have gained.”
According to court records, Wanzo pleaded guilty in 1991 to embezzling more than $230,000 from Southern Illinois University while she was employed there.