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Charges Dropped Against Another NIU Employee

DeKalb County Courthouse, Sycamore, Illinois
Susan Stephens
DeKalb County Courthouse, Sycamore, Illinois

DeKalb County State’s Attorney Richard Schmack has dismissed all charges against Susan Zahm in connection to the ‘NIU Coffee Fund’ case.

The case relates to the deposit of the proceeds from metal recycling at the University into a departmental account controlled by the Materials Management Department at the University, rather than the funds
being paid over to the State of Illinois.

Schmack previously dismissed charges against another employee involved in the investigation, Keenon Darlinger.

In a news release, Schmack stated:

After full analysis of the facts, it is the opinion of the State’s Attorney that, like Darlinger, Zahm acted within the scope of duties that had been assigned to her, with no criminal aim or purpose, and the ends of justice would not be served by her continued prosecution. The Department of Central Management Services, as the aggrieved party in the diversion of the funds, was consulted, through its General Counsel, prior to dismissal of these charges, and concurred in this result.

The news release says Zahm and Darlinger worked under the supervision and direction of, and reported to, the NIU officials who had actual operational control over recycling at the University and ultimate control over the account in

Charges against the other five defendants remain open.

Albanese Strikes Plea Deal

Earlier this week, a former NIU administrator pleaded guilty in connection with the recent coffee-fund investigation. Robert Albanese struck a deal with prosecutors.

Albanese is the former associate vice president of the Division of Finance and Facilities at NIU. He received 18 months of court supervision for pleading guilty to violating the state property act, which is a misdemeanor.

In exchange, several felony counts were dropped.

Albanese told the Chicago Tribune:"Now I'm retired, and I can kind of enjoy myself," he said. "I enjoyed working at NIU and tried to do a good job."

Prior to the announcement of the investigation, Albanese had reached a separation agreement with NIU over allegations of misconduct.

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