Waukegan City Clerk Janet Kilkelly speaks during a March 4, 2024, city council meeting, just over a week before she was charged with official misconduct and other felonies following a months-long investigation. | Photo: City of Waukegan

The Waukegan mayor says she is “disappointed” and has called on the city clerk to put the interests of Waukeganites first after the city clerk was indicted on over a dozen felony charges.

A Lake County grand jury on Wednesday returned a 15-count indictment against Kilkelly, 69.

Kilkelly is facing charges of official misconduct and misapplication of funds after an “extensive investigation” by the Illinois State Police, according to the Lake County State’s Attorney’s Office. All 15 charges are Class 3 felonies.

Kilkelly is accused in the indictment of illegally providing credits to Waukegan businesses that were applying for liquor and gambling licenses.

Prosecutors said the city council and Kilkelly’s own office “repeatedly established” that the credit would only go to businesses that were in “good standing.”

Despite the language of the ordinance and Kilkelly’s recommendation to the city council, Kilkelly gave thousands of dollars in credits to businesses that did not qualify for the financial support, prosecutors said.

Kilkelly was indicted after an Illinois State Police special agent presented charges and testified before the grand jury.

“The public must be able to trust that those who work in public service will follow the law and use our tax dollars as intended,” Illinois State Police Director Brendan Kelly said Thursday.

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“The ISP Special Investigations Unit will continue working to ensure accountability at all levels of government,” Kelly said.

Lake County State’s Attorney Eric Rinehart said that public officials “must be held to the highest standards.”

“I want to thank the Illinois State Police for their diligent, thorough, and fair investigation into this matter. Taxpayers lost a significant amount of revenue,” Rinehart said.

Rinehart said the city clerk “violated the public trust when she ignored her own recommendation and the final decision of the Waukegan City Council.”

Waukegan Mayor Ann Taylor said in a statement that she was “disappointed to learn” about the indictment related to Kilkelly’s duties as city clerk.

“While I firmly believe in our justice system and due process, as mayor, I also know that having a multi-count felony indictment is a considerable distraction to the duties of the clerk’s office and incompatible with the best interests of Waukegan’s residents and businesses,” Taylor said.

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“It is my hope that Clerk Kilkelly puts the interests of Waukeganites first. I will confer and work with the City Council to determine if any actions need to be taken by the City to ensure that the duties of the clerk’s office continue to be performed and the public-facing services of that office continue to be provided to Waukegan residents,” Taylor added.

The case will be prosecuted by Chief Kevin Berrill and Assistant State’s Attorney Russell Caskey of the Lake County State’s Attorney’s Office Financial Crimes & Public Integrity Unit.

The unit worked with the Illinois State Police on the case throughout 2023 and 2024.

In December, Lake and McHenry County Scanner reported that Kilkelly was under criminal investigation after investigators seized her work cellphone and executed a search warrant at the Waukegan City Hall.

Kilkelly at the time told the city’s aldermen that her phone was seized as part of an investigation of former 4th Ward Alderman Roudell Kirkwood.

In 2022, felony charges were brought against Kirkwood related to his application for liquor and gambling licenses.

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Kirkwood was previously the president of Mac Dynasty Inc., which operated several Lake County restaurants, public records show. The corporation has since been dissolved.

He was charged in July 2022 with 26 counts of forgery, two counts of wire fraud, two counts of official misconduct and one count of theft by deception.

The charges relate to Kirkwood allegedly falsifying documents submitted to the City of Waukegan and the Illinois Liquor Control Commission.

An indictment said that Kirkwood’s actions led to him fraudulently obtaining a video gaming license and making between $100,000 and $500,000 in gaming revenue.

Those charges were investigated and filed by the Kane County State’s Attorney’s Office because Rinehart had previously represented a family member of Kirkwood.

The Lake County State’s Attorney’s Office said they concluded with the Illinois State Police and Kane County State’s Attorney’s Office that no conflict existed with Lake County charging Kilkelly.

Kilkelly is scheduled to appear for her first court hearing in the case on April 2.