File Photo – Lake County State’s Attorney Eric Rinehart | Photo: Nam Y. Huh/AP (Pool)

The state’s attorney announced his office is creating a new Financial Crimes Unit to target various types of financial crimes, such as identity theft and credit card fraud, in Lake County.

The new county budget recently approved by the Lake County Board will “significantly reinforce” public safety initiatives, according to the Lake County State’s Attorney’s Office.

A new Financial Crimes Unit will target identity theft, credit card fraud, corporate embezzlement, wage theft and other financial crimes.

The state’s attorney’s office’s new budget includes funding for victim specialists, a trial prosecutor in the Special Victims Unit and technology upgrades related to the increased use of police body cameras.

“The new county budget invests in vital public safety needs and addresses burgeoning financial crimes committed against Lake County residents,” Lake County State’s Attorney Eric Rinehart said.

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“I want to personally thank the Lake County Board for backing these public safety efforts,” Rinehart said.

The new Financial Crimes Unit will also lead public education efforts and enhance law enforcement training when it comes to investigating these types of complex crimes, according to the unit’s new chief, Assistant State’s Attorney Kevin Berrill.

“This new unit will help protect vulnerable Lake County residents susceptible to financial exploitation due to age or disability,” Berrill said.

“Additionally, our work will help safeguard the local business community who also may be at risk of corporate fraud,” he added.

The state’s attorney’s office said the new county budget, which increased the office’s funding by $1.6 million, also shores up the office’s attorney workforce for its recently created violent crimes unit.

“In 2021, the County Board funded a Violent Crimes Unit through the federally funded American Rescue Plan Act, and we have subsequently won millions of dollars in grants to fund this unit,” Rinehart said.

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“But this year our office needed to preserve and invest in our office’s workforce of attorneys by permanently funding salary increases for our starting attorneys to be competitive with our neighbors in Kane, McHenry, and Cook Counties, thus keeping Lake County attorneys in Lake County,” Rinehart added.