Adam Lopez indicted on charges of theft, exploiting elderly

After nearly two months under a cloud of criminal investigation, Springfield School Board vice president Adam Lopez was indicted Wednesday on charges of theft and financial exploitation of the elderly.

The indictment alleges that Lopez, 35, of the 2900 block of Lakeshire Drive, knowingly exerted unauthorized control over more than $1 million entrusted to him through his role as a financial agent for Country Financial. Lopez was fired from the company in early September after a customer complaint, the company said.

Additional clients have since made complaints against Lopez, prompting Springfield police to open an investigation, which led to them raiding his home and office last month. The U.S. attorneys office, Sangamon County states attorneys office, FBI and Illinois Department of Insurance were also included in the investigation.

“Individuals who commit these types of financial crimes in a position of trust or confidence will be vigorously prosecuted,” said States Attorney Dan Wright. “The harm caused by these activities is immeasurable and those responsible will be brought to justice.”

Lopez is being held in the Sangamon County Jail on $1.5 million bond, a high number prosecutors attributed to the serious nature of the charges, the risk posed to the community and the perceived flight risk of Lopez.

Daniel Noll, Lopezs attorney, said Wednesday evening that Lopez will plead not guilty to all charges.

“He denies any wrongdoing and is presumed innocent of the charges,” Noll said. “He looks forward to telling his side of the story to the jurors of Sangamon County and believes he will ultimately be vindicated.”

The indictment, which includes two counts of theft and three counts of financial exploitation of the elderly, includes allegations that have surfaced in the past few months in civil lawsuits.

Among those named as victims of Lopezs alleged schemes are Ronald and Beverly Lenhart, Lopezs uncle and aunt; Richard Lenhart, his cousin; and Ronald Standridge, all of whom have civil cases pending against Lopez in Sangamon County.

In their suit filed last month, Beverly and Robert Lenhart allege that Lopez engaged in a scheme “to deceive and defraud” them of at least $800,000 in retirement savings. Richard Lenhart made similar accusations in a separate suit, alleging Lopez took up to $125,000 in savings meant for investment.

According to court documents, Lopez allegedly convinced Beverly and Robert Lenhart to sign checks over to him personally with the understanding Lopez would invest those funds in safer retirement accounts.The money was never invested, however, with the suit alleging Lopez “intended to induce (them) to make withdrawals/distributions of all their retirement savings and write personal checks to him which he deposited into his own personal account and used for his own personal affairs.”

Standridge sued Lopez for financial exploitation of the elderly, alleging Lopez took about $69,000 from him through an investment scheme. Also listed in todays indictment were Standridges wife, Nancy, and son, Jeremy.

“The Standridges appreciate the hard work by the States Attorneys office and the investigating agencies in bringing these charges,” said their attorney, August Appleton. “They pray for the day they are made whole and can put this nightmare behind them.” 

Lopez has been an elected member of the Springfield School Board since 2013. A District 186 spokeswoman said the district is not involved in any investigation involving Lopez or any of his personal matters.

Jeff Vose, the Sangamon County Regional Superintendent of Schools, said his office “has been monitoring the situation.”

State statute gives regional superintendents the authority to remove elected school board members, but it can only happen after three to four months of chronic absences from board meetings. Lopez cannot be removed simply for being indicted, Vose said.

As a result, Lopez will likely remain on the school board until his term ends in April, unless he resigns or is convicted beforehand. Lopez has not yet indicated whether he will seek re-election.

Sangamon County States Attorney Dan Wright issued a press release, which said Lopez is facing charges of theft and financial exploitation of the elderly.

A Sangamon County grand jury handed down the five-count indictment Wednesday morning and Lopez was later arrested by U.S. Marshals.

“This was a collaborative investigation by the US Attorneys Office, Sangamon County States Attorneys Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigations, the Illinois Department of Insurance and the Springfield Police Department and I want to commend all of those agencies on a very through, collaborative investigation,” Wright said.

His arrest follows an investigation by the U.S. Attorneys Office, the Illinois Department of Insurance and the Springfield Police Department.

The indictment alleges Lopez knowingly exerted unauthorized control over more than $1 million that was entrusted to him by several individuals as an investment professional.

The investigation has been ongoing since September of 2018 and is continuing as additional victims are identified.

“These types of financial crimes, especially by someone in a position of trust of confidence will be prosecuted vigorously. The harm caused by these activities is immeasurable and those responsible will be brought to justice,” Wright said.

Dan Wright issued a statement regarding Lopezs case and commended the hard work of all who were involved in the investigation thus far.

“Individuals who commit these types of financial crimes in a position of trust or confidence will be vigorously prosecuted. The harm caused by these activities is immeasurable and those responsible will be brought to justice,” Wright said.

Lopezs personal office was searched by Springfield Police on October 31 after police obtained a search warrant.

Earlier in October, the District 186 Superintendent told us the school board is also conducting a forensic audit looking into the Adam Lopez basketball tournament.

When asked for comment on the arrest, District 186 Spokesperson Bree Hankins tells us, The District is not involved in any investigation involving Adam Lopez or any of his personal matters. We have no further comment on his personal matters.

In regards to his position on the school board, Hankins said he is an elected official and the board does not have the authority to remove an elected board member. The Regional Office of Education is the only entity that has that authority.

We have reached out to Lopezs Attorney, Daniel Noll and Jeff Vose, the Sangamon County Regional Superintendent of Schools for comment. We have not yet heard back.


Posted in Springfield