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Rep. Ammons issues denial, but is investigated over alleged $80 retail theft

Monday, Jan 27, 2020

* News-Gazette

Last week, Presiding Judge Tom Difanis appointed the Office of the State’s Attorney Appellate Prosecutor to review Urbana police reports generated about a Jan. 7 incident in which [Rep. Carol Ammons, D-Urbana] allegedly took a Coach purse from the Carle Auxiliary Resale Boutique, 810 W. University Ave., U.

Ammons did not return calls seeking comment, but her husband, Champaign County Clerk Aaron Ammons, told The News-Gazette on Friday: “This is a non-story and a basic misunderstanding, and that’s all you’re going to get from me.” […]

Capt. Jason Henderson of the Illinois State Police Zone 5 office in Champaign said his office forwarded reports on an investigation done at the request of Urbana police — he declined to say what they investigated — to the appellate prosecutor on Jan. 17.

“They are reviewing a case we investigated for the possibility of prosecution,” said Henderson, adding it “would be inappropriate for us to release any information when it’s in their hands.”

* WCIA

The item, said to be a Coach purse, was worth an estimated $80, according to sources who were present. Those sources also say that wads of paper used to fill purses for display purposes were laying on a floor in a dressing room; the tag from the purse was also found on the floor.

Ammons’ legislative aide, Jenna Sickenius, emailed a statement on behalf of Ammons, calling the incident “a non-story about a simple misunderstanding.” […]

Sources familiar with the incident say investigators are reviewing surveillance footage from inside the store. “Security investigated a report of retail theft from the Carle Auxiliary Retail Boutique captured on video and following protocol, notified Urbana Police,” a spokesperson for Carle Foundation Hospital said in an email. “We will continue to cooperate with law enforcement on its investigation.”

…Adding… Maxwell…


- Posted by Rich Miller        

49 Comments
  1. - Perrid - Monday, Jan 27, 20 @ 9:36 am:

    I will never understand why people with means engage in petty shoplifting. Let alone public figures whose job depends on their reputation


  2. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Jan 27, 20 @ 9:37 am:

    The tape will say more than any responses, statements, or speculation.

    Release the tape, let’s see what it shows.


  3. - Ron Burgundy - Monday, Jan 27, 20 @ 9:38 am:

    It will be interesting to see what the surveillance video shows. The information about the paper and the price tag is troubling.


  4. - COOK - Monday, Jan 27, 20 @ 9:39 am:

    If she lived in Cook County, she would not be prosecuted for this!


  5. - SSL - Monday, Jan 27, 20 @ 9:43 am:

    I agree Perrid. It seems like this kind of thing happens all to often. Is it some kind of mental health issue?


  6. - Responsa - Monday, Jan 27, 20 @ 9:44 am:

    I have a friend who volunteers a couple days a week in a charity resale shop. The stories she has to tell….

    Unfortunately many of the small resale shops do not have surveillance cameras. Since this one does, lets see the tape.


  7. - Nick - Monday, Jan 27, 20 @ 9:46 am:

    Regardless this doesn’t look good. Hopefully the tape can clear it up, one way or another.


  8. - Annon - Monday, Jan 27, 20 @ 9:48 am:

    This underscores why we have to give State Reps a pay raise.


  9. - Powdered Whig - Monday, Jan 27, 20 @ 9:52 am:

    === This underscores why we have to give State Reps a pay raise. ===

    No - it underscores that we need to elect State Reps that do not engage in shoplifting (presumption of innocence notwithstanding).


  10. - Iggy - Monday, Jan 27, 20 @ 9:53 am:

    classy.


  11. - Centennial - Monday, Jan 27, 20 @ 9:53 am:

    Annon — I hope that was snark. It’s not like she allegedly stole a loaf of bread. It was a designer purse… from a resale shop… that benefits a charity.


  12. - Detective Freamon - Monday, Jan 27, 20 @ 9:55 am:

    Did the Champaign County GOP nominate an opponent for her for the November election?


  13. - Occasional Quipper - Monday, Jan 27, 20 @ 9:59 am:

    Even if the tapes make it seem obvious, the tapes can’t show intent. There could be a logical explanation including the possibility that she wanted to start using the new purse right away (the strap on her old one broke?) and she intended to pay for it but just plain forgot. It’s best to wait for the whole story, no matter how obvious it appears now.


  14. - Pundent - Monday, Jan 27, 20 @ 10:04 am:

    =There could be a logical explanation including the possibility that she wanted to start using the new purse right away (the strap on her old one broke?)=

    If there is a logical explanation I hope for her sake it differs from yours (which doesn’t seem particularly logical).


  15. - DTAG - Monday, Jan 27, 20 @ 10:05 am:

    Thrift stores aren’t known for their cleanliness I am sure you if we walk into any thrift store in the middle of the day you are gonna find paper on the floor price tags items out of place ect.


  16. - Responsa - Monday, Jan 27, 20 @ 10:06 am:

    ==@ Occasional Quipper - Monday, Jan 27, 20 @ 9:59 am:==

    LOL. Yeah, try that “just plain forgot” excuse at Macy’s.


  17. - Sue - Monday, Jan 27, 20 @ 10:07 am:

    why Would anyone offer a defense. Wait for the investigation but hopefully they don’t sweep this under the rug. Shoplifting costs honest people 10’s of billions of dollars a year- a cost all of us pay for thru higher prices. If she did it- I hope she is quickly removed from office if she refuses to resign.


  18. - Cubs in '16 - Monday, Jan 27, 20 @ 10:07 am:

    ===Is it some kind of mental health issue?===

    Sometimes, yes. Other times it’s simply greed or a sense of entitlement. Only the offenders know for sure.


  19. - Occasional Quipper - Monday, Jan 27, 20 @ 10:11 am:

    ==which doesn’t seem particularly logical==

    That was just an example. I didn’t say it was a good example. But I stand by my point that we really should just wait and see.


  20. - Ron Burgundy - Monday, Jan 27, 20 @ 10:17 am:

    -Thrift stores aren’t known for their cleanliness I am sure you if we walk into any thrift store in the middle of the day you are gonna find paper on the floor price tags items out of place ect.-

    “the tag from the purse was also found on the floor.“


  21. - Sticky Fingers - Monday, Jan 27, 20 @ 10:36 am:

    I wonder if Ammons has seen the tape?

    If the tape is conclusive, she’s added a big lie to the shoplifting offense.

    I don’t see how there’s a misunderstanding, unless she paid for a couple hundred dollars worth of goods and “accidentally” got undercharged for the $80 purse.


  22. - Jocko - Monday, Jan 27, 20 @ 10:45 am:

    ==that’s all you’re going to get from me==

    How about a receipt?


  23. - Lucky Pierre - Monday, Jan 27, 20 @ 10:57 am:

    Representative Ammons is a Bernie Sanders supporter advocating for “free” college education and healthcare.

    Why shouldn’t Coach purses be free as well?

    https://berniesanders.com/press/endorsements-senator-sanders-across-midwest/


  24. - Downstate - Monday, Jan 27, 20 @ 11:04 am:

    Kleptomania is real. It crosses the socio-economic spectrum.

    She and her husband both have good jobs and could have afforded the item. With kleptomania not about the savings, it’s about the thrill.

    That said, if she did attempt to shoplift, she needs professional help and should resign.


  25. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Jan 27, 20 @ 11:08 am:

    ===if she did attempt to shoplift, she needs professional help and should resign.===

    “If you have a treatable illness, you should resign”

    If you’re seeking professional help, it’s an illness.

    It’s a wonder anyone seeks help for a mental illness.


  26. - Pundent - Monday, Jan 27, 20 @ 11:09 am:

    =But I stand by my point that we really should just wait and see.=

    I agree that we should wait and see. I’m not saying that she’s a shoplifter nor am I offering a twisted excuse on what happened here.

    If she has a explanation for what occurred lets here it. Doesn’t seem that there’s much ambiguity here. She either did it or she’s got an explanation for what occurred. Either way the ball is in her court.


  27. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Jan 27, 20 @ 11:22 am:

    ===… an 8 year old email….===

    We comparing a coverup email to an $80 handbag?

    Whew


  28. - Just Observing - Monday, Jan 27, 20 @ 11:28 am:

    === Even if the tapes make it seem obvious, the tapes can’t show intent. There could be a logical explanation including the possibility that she wanted to start using the new purse right away (the strap on her old one broke?) and she intended to pay for it but just plain forgot. ===

    If that was the case, you would switch out the purse/contents at the cash register.


  29. - Donnie Elgin - Monday, Jan 27, 20 @ 11:31 am:

    If the alleged incident is proven, it looks bad. Theft of any type by a state rep is unacceptable. Stealing from a charitable resale shop that provides respite for family of critical care patients is beyond bad form.

    “Proceeds benefit the Carle Auxiliary Guest House and other philanthropic projects at Carle”


  30. - JIbba - Monday, Jan 27, 20 @ 11:50 am:

    “..and that’s all you’re going to get from me…”

    Funny, that sounds exactly like her responses when I’ve contacted her office on official matters.


  31. - The Historian - Monday, Jan 27, 20 @ 12:33 pm:

    Per Downstate’s comment, several decades ago a distinguished law professor who was *truly* a good guy had this problem, on repeated occasions, & it really ended his career & destroyed his life, notwithstanding how the mental health aspect of the behavior seemed undeniable. I presume there are folks out there with some expertise on this.


  32. - Da Big Bad Wolf - Monday, Jan 27, 20 @ 12:40 pm:

    Well did she try to conceal the purse, or did she bring it to the counter and it didn’t get added to her total? I agree with DTAG. I used to go to thrift shops a lot and they are often chaotic and unorganized. Which is part of the charm.


  33. - Leatherneck - Monday, Jan 27, 20 @ 12:41 pm:

    - The Historian - Monday, Jan 27, 20 @ 12:33 pm:

    Per Downstate’s comment, several decades ago a distinguished law professor who was *truly* a good guy had this problem, on repeated occasions, & it really ended his career & destroyed his life, notwithstanding how the mental health aspect of the behavior seemed undeniable. I presume there are folks out there with some expertise on this.
    —————–

    Don’t forget the 2nd ALPLM director, Rick Beard, who was fired in Oct. 2008 after a series of shoplifting arrests. Including a box set of Seinfield DVDs.

    https://www.sj-r.com/x1197763081/Lincoln-museum-director-fired


  34. - 17% Solution - Monday, Jan 27, 20 @ 12:55 pm:

    == Representative Ammons is a Bernie Sanders supporter advocating for “free” college education and healthcare.
    Why shouldn’t Coach purses be free as well?==
    Not really an apple to apples comparison, is it? But if Ammons discussed using the Coach purse with the thrift store manager, then they took a vote of everyone shopping in the thrift store about what to do, then everyone in the thrift store contributed to the cost of the Coach purse, and then Ammons had to return the purse to the thrift store after she was done using it, there might be some similarities.


  35. - A Resident of 103rd District - Monday, Jan 27, 20 @ 1:00 pm:

    Thoughts:

    1) Karma? Carol Ammons has a horrendous history and reputation when it comes to turning a blind eye to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. She has even actively endeavored to get an alleged rapist off (no double entendre intended). I know that isn’t directly related to this alleged purse theft. But it speaks to her character. And, perhaps, to karma? Karma’s a b**ch if you are.

    2) But… Race? Many, many, people shoplift, including, and especially, the wealthy. If Ammons were a Caucasian woman, would this incident not be handled quietly, and without issuing a press release to the media?

    Two thing we can say for sure:

    1. Ammons has made political enemies.
    2. She is finished.


  36. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Jan 27, 20 @ 1:07 pm:

    === Two thing we can say for sure:


    2. She is finished.===

    Slow down, Speed Racer.

    One only needs to look to Virginia to see so many things that should end careers… don’t.


  37. - Charlie Brown - Monday, Jan 27, 20 @ 1:31 pm:

    Rep Reick was pulled over for a DUI last May and received court supervision, presumably his record has already been cleaned.

    No one seems to be demanding his resignation, although I think most of us would agree that DUI is a much more serious offense than misdemeanor shoplifting,

    I am not suggesting any special treatment was given to Reick or should be provided to Ammons. But the appropriate resolution here is court supervision and a fine, not resignation and jail time.


  38. - Anon - Monday, Jan 27, 20 @ 2:22 pm:

    =She has even actively endeavored to get an alleged rapist off (no double entendre intended) =

    Citation?


  39. - City Zen - Monday, Jan 27, 20 @ 2:23 pm:

    Everyone assumes designer handbags are knock-offs anyway. Why bother?


  40. - Da Big Bad Wolf - Monday, Jan 27, 20 @ 2:54 pm:

    What I really want to know is did she buy Lincoln’s hat at Carle?


  41. - jake - Monday, Jan 27, 20 @ 3:30 pm:

    As has been pointed out, shoplifting is a less serious crime than some others. It involves relatively small amounts of property and no physical damage or danger to others. But shoplifting by people who are well off financially so that the object is not something the shoplifter really needs to take, is just so jaw-droppingly stupid and embarrassing that one is hard-pressed to make a sensible comment. That being said, there is research on this, and it is fairly common.


  42. - RankandFile - Monday, Jan 27, 20 @ 3:34 pm:

    Readers may wish to review Retail Theft - 720 ILCS 5/16-25. Special focus on a-1, a-2, c-1, c-2, and f.

    Where did Rep Ammons stand on attempts to water down the Retail Theft statute in Illinois? HB 1614?


  43. - Sue - Monday, Jan 27, 20 @ 5:35 pm:

    If she was a white male Republican all of you defenders would be screaming for her to resign


  44. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Jan 27, 20 @ 5:45 pm:

    === If she was a white male Republican all of you defenders would be screaming for her to resign===

    LOL

    I’m not a defender, but neither i would call to resign…


  45. - Oldtimer - Monday, Jan 27, 20 @ 9:51 pm:

    Anyone remember former Rep Sandra Pihos? She was involved in a similar incident in 2017. She was no longer in the House when arrested for stealing some clothing items. Pihos was fined and sentenced to community service.


  46. - Oldtimer - Monday, Jan 27, 20 @ 9:54 pm:

    Google State Rep Sandra Pihos. Similar story.


  47. - charles in charge - Monday, Jan 27, 20 @ 10:01 pm:

    “Where did Rep Ammons stand on attempts to water down the Retail Theft statute in Illinois? HB 1614?“

    You mean the bill that would put Illinois in the mainstream, instead of having the second-lowest felony threshold in the country as we currently do? The bill that Rauner’s bipartisan Commission recommended? That change is long overdue.

    You know, Wisconsin, Missouri, Indiana and every other surrounding state have significantly higher thresholds than Illinois. Texas’ threshold is $2,500. Illinois’ is $300. Sending people to IDOC and giving them felony records for shoplifting is massively wasteful and completely ineffective policy. Enough.


  48. - Da Big Bad Wolf - Tuesday, Jan 28, 20 @ 7:29 am:

    == Where did Rep Ammons stand on attempts to water down the Retail Theft statute in Illinois? HB 1614?==
    $80 is under the old threshold. What are you implying?


  49. - All This - Tuesday, Jan 28, 20 @ 8:04 am:

    “If she was a white male Republican all of you defenders would be screaming for her to resign.”
    What defenders? You mean people who say wait for the evidence? Isn’t that how all people should be treated all the time?


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