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ROCK ISLAND — A woman accused of stealing nearly $9,000 from the Rock Island County Treasurer’s Office made her first appearance on the charge Monday.

Carolyn R. Kerr, 39, Rock Island, has been charged with felony theft in Rock Island County, court records state. Those documents allege she committed a series of acts between July 2, 2018, and Nov. 2, 2018, that were designed to permanently deprive the county of more than $500 in U.S. currency but less than $10,000.

Monday, Kerr, who was not in custody, made her initial appearance before Judge Clayton R. Lee, who read the charge to her.

Kerr, represented at the hearing by attorney Andrew Larson, pleaded innocent to the charge and also entered a waiver of her preliminary hearing.

During a preliminary hearing, the prosecution presents an outline of the evidence and the judge determines whether the case is strong enough to continue. The presentation is made from the witness stand, usually by a police officer. The defense has an opportunity to question the witness before the judge makes the ruling. The burden of proof placed on the state in such a hearing is not considered high.

Choosing not to have the hearing means the defense will not have an opportunity to challenge the outline, but a waiver is not an admission of guilt.

Kerr’s next court date was set for May 31.

Kerr, who worked at the office at the time, is accused of taking varying amounts of money from a series of deposits the treasurer's office made, special prosecutor Charles Zalar, of the Illinois Office of the State’s Attorney Appellate Prosecutor, has said. Money was taken on about a dozen different occasions, and the total was about $8,800.

Zalar is prosecuting the felony case against Kerr instead of the Rock Island County State’s Attorney’s Office. The appellate prosecutor is often brought in if there is the potential for a conflict of interest in a case.

Zalar said only Kerr, the daughter of former county treasurer LuAnn Kerr, was suspected in the case and that she had been cooperating fully in the investigation.

Zalar declined to detail how the scheme was found out, for what the money was used or whether any of the money has been recovered.

Rock Island County Sheriff Gerry Bustos confirmed in December that there was a theft investigation focused on an employee who was no longer employed in the treasurer's office.

The case was investigated by the Illinois State Police. Bustos said in December that he had asked the state to handle the investigation for the sake of transparency.

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