GIBSON CITY — A funeral director in Gibson City accused of stealing more than $60,000 from her previous employer pleaded not guilty Wednesday to one count of felonious theft.
Before entering the plea, 51-year-old Michelle M. Rosenbaum waived her right to a preliminary hearing, in which the prosecution would have been required to present evidence to establish that probable cause exists to proceed to trial.
Associate Judge Robert Travers tentatively set a jury trial for the week of Jan. 6 in Ford County Circuit Court, preceded by a pretrial hearing at 10 a.m. Dec. 18.
Given the quick turnaround between the pretrial hearing and trial, Travers advised Rosenbaum’s attorney, Lance Cagle of Paxton, to not wait until after the pretrial hearing to line up any expert witnesses he intends to have testify. That way, Travers said, all parties can be prepared for trial in January.
Cagle, meanwhile, told Travers that he did not think a January trial would be “realistic,” given the amount of evidence that needs to be exchanged and reviewed through the discovery process.
Travers admonished Rosenbaum of the Class 2 felony theft charge filed against her, telling her that, if convicted, she faces a sentence ranging from up to four years of probation to up to three to seven years in prison and as much as a $25,000 fine.
Travers said that “obviously” restitution could be possible in this case, as well.
Rosenbaum, who operates the Rosenbaum Funeral Home in Gibson City, was charged Sept. 5 with one count of theft in excess of $10,000 in connection with a series of alleged thefts that occurred while she was employed as funeral director at the Lamb Young Funeral Home in Gibson City.
Special prosecutor Thomas J. Brown of the Illinois Office of the State’s Attorney Appellate Prosecutor said in charging documents that Rosenbaum allegedly stole the funds through “a series of acts performed at different times” between January 2010 and November 2017.
Eric Young, manager of the Lamb Young Funeral Home, told the Ford County Record that the amount stolen exceeded $60,000. Young said Rosenbaum allegedly stole more than $40,000 from the Lamb Young Funeral Home’s business account to pay her personal credit card bills. Young said Rosenbaum also allegedly made more than $10,000 in unauthorized purchases using the funeral home’s credit card.
Young said that Rosenbaum was the Lamb Young Funeral Home’s funeral director for 28 years before she left the job in June 2018. In fall 2018, Rosenbaum opened the Rosenbaum Funeral Home, which she continues to operate as of today.