Crime & Courts

Wife of former McHenry County undersheriff pleads guilty to drug charge

WOODSTOCK – A 40-year-old woman who was working as a Kane County deputy when she was arrested on drug charges accepted a plea deal in Lake County court Monday.

Kimberly Zinke pleaded guilty to attempted possession of a controlled substance, which is punishable by up to a year in prison. As part of the negotiated plea, the original charges against Zinke – possession of a controlled substance – were dismissed.

A conviction of those charges could have meant a one- to three-year prison sentence for Zinke, who pleaded down to avoid a possible felony conviction and the financial stresses that would have come with a trial, her attorney, Douglas Zeit, said in court.

“I can tell you she doesn’t like doing this at all,” he told Lake County Judge Patricia Fix.

Zinke testified that she understood the negotiated plea and accepted it willingly.

Zeit declined to comment further.

The case, which originally was set for a bench trial Monday morning, was transferred to Lake County after McHenry County judges recused themselves. Her husband, Andrew Zinke, previously worked in former Sheriff Keith Nygren’s administration and ran for sheriff in 2014 after Nygren announced his retirement.

Andrew Zinke lost to Bill Prim in the Republican primary, and former McHenry County State’s Attorney Lou Bianchi supported Prim, who won the election.

Kimberly Zinke was charged in April 2015 after an Illinois State Police investigation into allegations that the deputy was holding onto dropped-off medications that she was meant to deliver to her department’s evidence vault, according to a July 10, 2017, motion.

On April 16, 2015, Illinois State Police officers placed marked prescription pill bottles in the prescription dropbox located in the lobby of the Pingree Grove Police Department. They watched her from 1:22 p.m., when she picked up the evidence, until she arrived home at 3:44 p.m., according to the motion.

For the next two days, officers monitored Kimberly Zinke from security cameras at the Kane County Sheriff’s Office, but they never saw her dispose of the marked prescription bottles, the motion stated. Officers also did not find the marked bottles in the Kane County Sheriff’s Office’s evidence vault.

Kimberly Zinke was indicted on the charges after an April 2015 search of her home.

Prosecutors said she possessed modafinil, used to treat narcolepsy and excessive sleepiness; zolpidem, which is used as a sleep aid; and tapentadol, an opioid pain medication, according to the indictment.

Zeit told the judge Monday that he had contacted Kimberly Zinke’s insurance company and was able to locate a prescription for at least one of the medications.

It is unclear whether Kimberly Zinke still is employed by the Kane County Sheriff’s Office. The county’s 2017 projected salary report listed Kimberly Zinke as an employee earning more than $84,000 annually.

She is scheduled to be sentenced March 1 in Lake County court.

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