Courts & Crime

Probation officer charged with stealing from 85-year-old's purse

A longtime Madison County, Ill., probation officer stole cash from an 85-year-old woman's purse at a Troy store, according to charges in an indictment issued Thursday.

Richard Asperger, an $89,000-a-year administrator in the probation department, was charged with felony theft for allegedly stealing $355 from the woman's purse Nov. 22 after she left it in a cart at a Walgreens store.

The case is being handled by a special prosecutor from outside Madison County: Charles Zalar, of the Illinois Appellate Prosecutor's Office.

Police got involved after the woman realized her purse was missing.

"He told the police that he saw money blowing around the parking lot, and kids running after it," Zalar said. "The evidence, in the form of a surveillance videotape of the parking lot, contradicts that."

Asperger's attorney, Ron Slemer, said Thursday he's known Asperger for many years, beginning when Asperger was a police officer in Madison.

"I'm looking forward to reviewing the evidence here," Slemer said.

Asperger's title is human services administrator. On Thursday morning, before the indictment was issued, Judy Dallas, head of the probation department, declined to give specifics about Asperger's employment status.

"I really can't talk about his status. He is on the payroll," Dallas said.