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Former Southern Illinois Village Clerk Sentenced for Theft

BELKNAP, Ill. (AP) - A former clerk for a small southern Illinois community has been sentenced to three years in prison after authorities say she stole more than $25,000 from the village.

Ex-Belknap clerk and treasurer Nancy Hester was sentenced Tuesday in Johnson County after she pleaded guilty to theft charges.

In court, she apologized and said she was depressed over a divorce and suffered from a gambling problem.  Hester's lawyers had hoped she'd receive probation. She'll also have to repay the money.

Belknap has about 130 residents. The village president says unless the money is repaid, it'd take the community about 15 years to rebuild the depleted account. The money represented more than half of the community's general fund.

Belknap is about 30 miles south of Carbondale.

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