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Charges dropped against DeKalb man in 'coffee fund' case

Published: Thursday, March 21, 2013 9:48 a.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, March 22, 2013 12:08 a.m. CDT
Keenon Darlinger

SYCAMORE – Criminal charges have been dropped against one of the eight Northern Illinois University employees charged in connection with the "coffee fund" scrap metal recycling operation.

DeKalb County State's Attorney Richard Schmack dropped charges against Keenon Darlinger, of DeKalb. Darlinger had been charged with theft, official misconduct and violating the State Property Control Act for allegedly mishandling between $500 and $10,000 worth of recycleable material between Oct. 12, 2009 and Oct. 12, 2012.

The coffee fund was an off-the-books repository for proceeds from the sale of NIU-owned scrap metal and other materials. The account accumulated at least $13,000 since 2005 but held $2,187 when it was closed in August. The money was used for office retirement parties and similar expenses, NIU officials have said.

Darlinger acted without criminal purpose and under the direction of NIU officials who controled recycling efforts and the coffee fund account, Schmack said in a news release.

"While his actions may have contributed to the improper diversion of funds from Central Management Services, he would have performed the same, or similar, work activities had his supervisors been directing funds to the proper place," Schmack said in the news release.

In the news release, Schmack declined to comment further.

Six cases related to the "coffee fund" remain pending, along with the case against Joseph Alberti, of DeKalb, who allegedly stole a computer monitor.

Robert Albanese, former associate vice president of the Division of Finance and Facilities at NIU, pleaded guilty Tuesday to violating the State Property Control Act, a Class B misdemeanor, and prosecutors dropped felony charges of theft and official misconduct.

Albanese, of Elburn, was sentenced to 18 months of court supervision and fined $825. If he successfully completes the non-reporting probation, Albanese can have his record expunged. This case should not affect his ability to collect his pension.

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