A Kane County deputy who is the wife of a former McHenry County undersheriff was sentenced to a year of conditional discharge and seven days in jail by a Lake County judge Thursday.
Kimberly Zinke, 40, pleaded guilty in January to attempted possession of a controlled substance, which is punishable by up to a year in prison. As part of a negotiated plea, the original charges against Zinke – possession of a controlled substance – were dismissed.
Zinke and her attorney, Douglas Zeit, were floored by the sentence handed down from Lake County Judge Patricia Fix.
The case was transferred to Lake County after McHenry County judges recused themselves. Zinke’s husband, Andrew Zinke, previously worked in former Sheriff Keith Nygren’s administration, and he ran for sheriff in 2014 after Nygren announced his retirement.
Zeit described Kimberly Zinke’s guilty plea as an Alford plea, in which the defendant in a criminal case does not admit to the criminal act and asserts innocence.
In a statement, Kimberly Zinke said the past three years have been “very trying,” and that since she was hurt in 2011, she’s had 26 surgeries. She also said she spent more than three weeks in the hospital because of an error made by a surgeon during the time that state police were investigating her.
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.
Kimberly Zinke was indicted on the charges after a search of her home in April 2015, where police said they found between 2,000 and 3,000 pills.
Zeit presented to the court a 76-page list of prescriptions doctors had prescribed Kimberly Zinke since 2008.
Lake County Assistant State’s Attorney Reginald Matthews argued that Kimberly Zinke failed to take responsibility and is a liar. He said that she shouldn’t be treated any differently because she’s a police officer, but he also asked that she be ordered to have probation, substance abuse counseling and no jail time.
“We’re not looking for any type of incarceration,” Matthews told the court.
Zeit said that prosecutors seem to think his client has a drug problem, again referencing the long list of prescriptions from doctors.
The defense was able to track down all but two of Kimberly Zinke’s prescriptions. The doctor who wrote the two they didn’t retrieve now is retired and in a Wisconsin dementia treatment center. They were so old that the records were disposed of, Zeit and Kimberly Zinke said.
Kimberly Zinke said she didn’t take a lot of the pills she was prescribed, and that’s why investigators found so many of them. She said they were found one week before when she planned to dispose of them.
Kimberly Zinke said she still is a deputy in Kane County, and the agency didn’t fire her after an internal investigation.
Fix ruled that Kimberly Zinke cannot be employed anywhere that her duties would involve the handling of drugs. She also is not allowed to possess a firearm during the year of conditional discharge, and she must surrender her firearm owner’s identification card. She also must undergo drug and alcohol use evaluations. She will, however, be allowed to live in Missouri with her husband and two children.
Fix said she “can’t reconcile” how Kimberly Zinke had so many ailments and surgeries and yet still was in possession of more than 2,000 pills.
“If [the conditions] are so serious, why isn’t she taking [the medications]?” Fix said.
After delivering the sentence, Fix immediately left the courtroom as Zeit reacted in disbelief.
Court staff and attorneys spent about the next two hours trying to figure out where Kimberly Zinke was to serve her jail time, given McHenry County’s recusal from the case. It was unclear to court staff where she would be incarcerated.
Kimberly Zinke will pay about $2,755 in fines and court costs after her bond is applied.