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Orville Enoch Hodge (October 1, 1904 – December 29, 1986) was the Auditor of Public Accounts (predecessor to the office of Comptroller) of the state of Illinois from 1952 to 1956. During his term of office, he embezzled $6.15 million of state funds, mainly by altering and forging cheques that were paid on the state's account.
Hodge was born in Anderson, Indiana, and raised in Granite City, Illinois, from the age of four; he and his family owned land and businesses in the area. In 1946, he married Margaret Coudy of Granite City with whom he had one son. He was elected to the Illinois House of Representatives, where he served three terms. He was elected Auditor in 1952. He was a Republican.
His scheme started in 1954, when he forged accounting records to create a false paper trail to convince the Illinois General Assembly that his office was insolvent. The legislature obediently handed his office a $525,000 emergency appropriation, which Hodge kept for himself. Further thefts followed; with the money, Hodge purchased two private jets, 30 automobiles (including four Cadillacs and a Rolls-Royce imported from Britain), and multiple properties in Florida and Illinois.
The embezzlement scheme was cracked by the Chicago Daily News, whose reporting team was awarded a 1957 Pulitzer Prize for their investigation. Upon indictment, Hodge pleaded guilty to 54 bank fraud, embezzlement and forgery charges and was sentenced to a 12 to 15 year prison term. He was released in 1970 and went to work at his sister's hardware store in Granite City until his death at the age of 82 in Edwardsville, Illinois.
The Hodge scandal played a role in the decision by Illinois lawmakers to abolish the office of the State Auditor in the new state constitution of 1970. The office was replaced by the new office of the Comptroller.
- History of the Illinois Comptroller's Office
- Time article, July 30, 1956
- bio and picture in 1953 official Illinois state handbook
Benjamin O. Cooper
|Illinois Auditor of Public Accounts
1953 – 1956