Adam Lopez Springfield sentenced to 11 years in prison for theft

Former chairman of School District 186 Education Council and nation’s financial agent Adam Lopez of Springfield was sentenced to 11 years in prison on Tuesday by Associate Judge Rudolph Braud in Sangamon County Court.

Lopez, 38, had spent up to 30 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections, but with no criminal history, prosecutors asked the judge for a 15-year sentence.

See also: Two and a half years after his arrest, Adam Lopez pleads guilty to theft

Lopez, in a uniform issued by the Sangamon County Jail, looked straight ahead as Braud handed down the sentence, closing the nearly two-hour hearing.

Lopez will serve his sentence at 50% and get credit for the 965 days he served in the county jail.

At the end of his sentence, Lopez will have to serve three years of mandatory supervised release.

Lopez pleaded guilty to the most serious charge of theft on May 3.

Under an agreement with the prosecution, three counts of financial exploitation of elderly people and one count of financial exploitation of a disabled person against Lopez were dismissed.

The two counts of theft involving the fellow detainee were also dismissed.

Lopez is said to have served one of those charges simultaneously, which would not have resulted in an additional jail term.

Lopez, in a court statement and at times emotionally breaking down, apologized to those he defrauded over $ 1.5 million from April 2014 to September 2018. This included his aunt and her maternal uncle, Beverly and Robert Lenhart, who were in attendance Tuesday.

State attorney Dan Wright earlier in the proceedings read a statement from the couple’s victim who admitted they had “nightmares” when their financial situation collapsed.

Mike Lopez pats his son Adam Lopez, former chairman of School District 186 Education Council and the nation's financial agent, on the back after testifying on his behalf during his conviction in Sangamon County Court at the County Complex in Sangamon in Springfield, Illinois, Tuesday June 29, 2021. [Justin L. Fowler/The State Journal-Register]

Lopez apologized to his parents, Mike and Gail Lopez, who testified on his behalf, to his former wife, Christine, and his three daughters and to the Sangamon County taxpayers “for all the time and money spent to this case “.

More than 20 letters of support for Lopez from members of the community, including Lopez’s former pastor at Cherry Hills Church, Rev. Patrick McKenna and Christine Lopez, were included in a court file.

Wright said the scale of Adam Lopez’s fraud was “staggering”.

“Put simply,” Wright said, “(Lopez) is a financial predator who has lured his victims into a relationship of trust based on his employer’s reputation, previous personal and family relationships, and a knack for manipulation and deception. “

Wright added that the nature and extent of his crime “far outweighed the lack of a criminal record.”

In a letter submitted by the Lenharts and read to court by Wright, the Lenharts said they “had complete confidence in (Lopez). We didn’t think he would do this to us.”

Due to the Lenharts’ financial situation, they had to stop paying a granddaughter’s school fees, the letter said, and had to rely on their children to pay part of their monthly bills.

Wright also read victim impact letters from Mary Chance, who wrote to the court on behalf of her son, Justin Chance, and Judy Allen.

Both were defrauded by Lopez.

Wright said Lopez did not learn his lesson because as an inmate at Sangamon County Jail, Lopez was charged with another count of theft.

Kelly Urbas, a retired Springfield Police Department detective, testified for the state about Lopez promising an inmate he could double his money.

Lopez never followed through, Urbas said.

Mike Lopez, the father of Adam Lopez and president of the village of Jerome, told the court that he has a “very close, very honest and sympathetic” relationship with his son.

“I am here to support my son,” Lopez said. “I think he’s a better person to go forward.”

Mike Lopez patted his son twice on the back as he returned to his seat from the witness stand.

Gail Lopez spoke about her son’s academic achievements and his involvement in organizations like Big Brothers Big Sisters and his fraternity, Phi Beta Sigma.

Lopez said his son helped his cousins ​​find work “when they couldn’t find one. Adam doesn’t like people to see his soft side, but he likes helping people.”

Like her husband, Gail Lopez said she was “totally shocked” by her arrest and added that she knew nothing about the financial exploits.

In court, Lopez’s attorney Daniel Noll said “Lopez’s downfall has attracted media and community attention.”

Noll said Lopez had already been severely punished for losing his reputation and his wife.

“His family is torn apart, he has lost his political career. He has lost everything,” Noll said. “There is no court order that would change anything about that.”

It wasn’t immediately clear if Lopez planned to appeal his sentence.

Noll said after the conviction that “it was not a fun day for the Lopez family or any of the parties involved in it.”

“I think Adam really has remorse for the conduct that brought him before the judge today,” Noll added. “He took responsibility for his actions. He (pleaded) guilty and was sentenced today. He apologized several times in court today and I take him at his word for it.”

Lopez must repay $ 1,533,778.97 to Country Financial, which reimbursed former Lopez customers.

Lopez agreed to confiscate the seized sports memorabilia and a $ 17,000 fishing boat he purchased in August 2018. Proceeds from the sale of these items will be used for return to Country Financial.

In July 2015, Lopez lost to Rob Mellon in a special Democratic primary for the 18th Congressional District seat held by Aaron Schock.

Lopez served two terms on the school board, running unopposed in Sub-District 2 in 2013 and 2015. He succeeded Mike Zimmers as board chair in 2016 and held that position for two years. Zimmers succeeded him as chairman in 2018 and Lopez became vice chairman.

Lopez’s seat remained vacant until Micah Miller defeated Sean Dickerson in the April 2019 election.

Also: Here’s Adam Lopez’s journey from school board president to guilty plea

A Southeastern high school graduate and the University of Illinois at Springfield, Lopez’s financial office sponsored a boys’ basketball tournament that bore his name for several years.

Lopez was fired from the company in September 2018 following a customer complaint, the company said. More than two months later, Lopez was indicted by a grand jury and arrested by US marshals in Springfield.

Contact Steven Spearie: 217-622-1788, [email protected],

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