Hintz agrees to paid administrative leave pending criminal investigation

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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) – Leave of Absence – Winnebago County Coroner Bill Hintz has agreed to take administrative leave with pay as he faces multiple charges of theft, forgery and official misconduct.

The deal comes just two weeks after Hintz was banned from his county office and email account. Now the county is looking for a deputy coroner to fill the position.

“Having an extra person to help manage the workload would be beneficial,” said Winnebago County Board Member Paul Arena.

Arena says it’s been stressful for staff to keep up after Coroner Bill Hintz agreed to paid administrative leave following his ongoing criminal investigation.

“The day-to-day operation of the coroner’s office is done primarily by staff,” Arena said.

Winnebago County Chairman Joseph Chiarelli said the position could cost the county nearly $70,000 to fill.

“It would come from the general fund, like all the other county offices funded from the general fund,” Chiarelli said. “This position has always been filled in the coroner’s office, but for some reason it has not been filled.”

Chiarelli believes Hintz taking administrative leave is the best decision for citizens of Winnebago County dealing with the death of a loved one.

“We want to make sure they are treated the way and in the way that they deserve to be treated at the full capacity of the coroner’s office,” Chiarelli said.

Arena agrees that the county is handling the situation in the best possible way.

“I think President Chiarelli has been very decisive in making sure the office will work properly,” Arena said. “In the future, the public should be able to be sure that accountability to this office will be properly executed.”

Until this position is filled, the office currently receives assistance from the Sheriff’s Department under Deputy Chief Mark Karner.

Both Chiarelli and Arena want to emphasize that Hintz is innocent until proven guilty and the actions the county is currently taking in no way suggest that Hintz is guilty.

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