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Edwardsville woman facing criminal charges after working as a public defender without a law license

Kelcie Miller could face criminal charges for taking taxpayer money for a job she wasn't even supposed to have

EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. — An Edwardsville woman is facing criminal charges after working as an assistant public defender without actually having a license to practice law.

According to court records obtained by 5 On Your Side, Kelcie Miller is charged with theft, false personation of an attorney and forgery.

Charging documents allege she knowingly lied to draw a salary and benefits from Madison County government that totaled more than $10,000 but less than $100,000.

The documents also allege Miller represented herself to clients and co-workers as an attorney authorized to practice law in the State of Illinois, knowing that was not true.

Additionally, Miller is accused of presenting the public defender's office a forged document from the Illinois Attorney Registration and Discipline Commission of the Supreme Court of Illinois.

That document, according to court records, was a phony Illinois Attorney Registration Card with the number 6317562, in the name of Kelcie Marie Miller, which she claimed authorized her to practice law in the state.

Miller was arrested Wednesday by the Madison County Sheriff's Office. It was not immediately clear if she was still in custody or posted bail to be released.

Madison County Public Defender John Rekowski said Wednesday that his office hired Miller in October to the publicly funded position that paid $57,000.

He said at the time, she presented a valid law degree from Valaprasio University.

But Rekowski said he never dug any deeper or checked to ensure Miller held a valid law license for the state of Illinois or was in fact registered to practice in the state.

When asked by reporters why he didn't check, Rekowski said it's not something he'd ever been lied to before in his more than 30 years as the chief public defender.

That practice is something he said he will be changing for any new hires moving forward. Additionally, Rekowski said he checked his existing staff and found no other cases like Miller's.

Turns out, Rekowski said Miller took the Illinois Bar Exam twice, but never passed it. He also admitted to never asking her for proof she passed the exam upon her offer of employment.

During Miller's time working in his office, she handled approximately 80 cases, both misdemeanors and low-level felonies.

He said there were never any red flags about her performance.

"I had no reports from prosecutors. I had no reports from my staff. I never personally witnessed anything that would make me question her abilities," he said.

Rekowski said Miller's cases almost exclusively resulted in plea agreements, meaning they never went to trial before a judge or jury.

Still, those cases are now getting a second look.

Rekowski said defendants in closed cases who were previously represented by Miller have been notified of the situation and their legal rights moving forward.

As for open cases, he said her role will be reassigned to other assistant public defenders.

Miller was preparing to be second chair to Rekowski in the Zachary Capers case. Capers is accused in the double stabbing death of an Edwardsville couple in their home in March.

Rekowski said Miller's cover was blown when a court reporter had a question about the spelling of her first name.

That reporter asked a judge, who also didn't know. They tried to look her up in a statewide database of licensed Illinois attorneys, but Kelcie Miller wasn't listed.

Rekowski said when confronted about the situation, Miller insisted she was an attorney.

She has since been fired.

Attempts to reach her via social media have not been successful.

Both the Madison County Sheriff's Office and the Madison County State's Attorney's Office are investigating.

State's Attorney Tom Gibbons released the following statement:

“This matter was brought to our attention last week. We are coordinating with the Madison County Sheriff’s Office to investigate the allegations. That investigation is well underway, but not yet complete. Once the investigation is fully completed, we will meet with the investigators to determine whether charges are warranted. The allegations are extremely serious and we will deal with them accordingly once the facts are known.”

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