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Plea deal expected in theft case against Normal officer

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BLOOMINGTON — A plea agreement is in the works for the Normal police officer accused of theft and misconduct last year.

Brian R. Williams, 47, is charged with two counts of felony theft and two counts of official misconduct, accused of taking $12,000 from a house in Normal while responding to an unrelated 911 call and then trying to return the money.

At a brief hearing Monday morning, Williams submitted a jury waiver, which waives his right to a jury trial. He pleaded not guilty to the charges at his arraignment last December.

Williams’ attorney Stephanie Wong asked Judge William Yoder to set a date for a plea hearing for this case.

He will be back in court Nov. 20.

At the time of his arrest on Dec. 1, 2019, Williams was an 18-year veteran of the Normal Police Department. He was placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of an internal investigation, Police Chief Rick Bleichner said in December.

Illinois State Police led the criminal investigation.

A lawsuit was filed against the town of Normal, Bleichner and three members of the police department in January, and in September a judge denied a motion to dismiss it.

Lindsey Holzhauer alleges the chief and detectives conspired to prevent her from reporting $12,000 stolen from her home.

In the lawsuit, Holzhauer alleges the theft took place Nov. 25, 2019, when first responders were called to her home for a medical emergency involving her husband, Dustin. He later died.

She later discovered the money was missing and reported it. After that, Holzhauer said in the lawsuit, she began getting anonymous calls indicating the money would be returned and asking her to stop talking to police about an investigation, court documents said.

Williams was arrested Dec. 1 by Illinois State Police after he placed a bag containing money in a phone booth at a Pontiac gas station, according to criminal court documents. Holzhauer said in the lawsuit that the anonymous caller had said her money would be returned to her there.

In denying the motion to dismiss, Judge James Shadid of the U.S. District Court in Peoria said the plaintiff had met the requirements necessary to file a lawsuit, including sufficiently alleged a “meeting of the minds” between two or more defendants to violate the plaintiff’s constitutional rights.

The latest Crime Stoppers of McLean County cases

Contact Kelsey Watznauer at (309) 820-3254. Follow her on Twitter: @kwatznauer.

Kevin Barlow contributed to this report.


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