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Marine veteran and Toys for Tots volunteer goes to trial for theft of toys

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Toys for Tots

Marines volunteer with the Toys for Tots organization. Note: these Marines are not involved in the lawsuit.

March 28–Jury selection was underway Monday for the trial of a Foss Park District board member charged with stealing toys at a Toys for Tots charity event in North Chicago in December 2014.

Susan Dixon faces a felony charge of theft. Officials said she faces a potential sentence of three to seven years in prison if convicted.

She is one of six defendants initially charged, but charges have been dropped against three of them. A fourth pleaded guilty and one other is still awaiting trial.

Authorities allege the defendants removed dozens of toys without authorization from a park district facility. The event was co-sponsored by the Reserves, which severed ties with the park district for the 2015 Toys for Tots drive.

The toys, which authorities said were valued at more than $500 but less than $10,000, had been donated and were intended to go to needy families who had signed up to participate.

Judge Daniel Shanes began the jury selection process for Dixon’s trial Monday morning. The trial is expected to feature two hours of videotape from the event, as well as testimony from North Chicago police and at least two previous defendants in the case.

Charges were dropped by prosecutors against initial defendants Tommie Kindle and Mark Dixon Jr. after the judge questioned why authorities did not turn over all surveillance video from the event.

Latonya Dickerson, a Marine who was involved in the giveaway, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor theft in Lake County’s veterans court, officials said. Part of her plea included a promise of truthful testimony in trials of other defendants.

Kindle’s mother, Jacqueline, was also charged in the case but the charge was dropped last summer.

The final defendant, Jimmy Baldwin, also a Foss Park Board commissioner, is still awaiting trial.

Dixon is being represented by attorney Elizabeth Vonau. In pretrial hearings, Vonau argued that the videotapes provided to prosecutors and defense attorneys show people toting garbage bags around the facility, but don’t show what’s in the bags, and that several minutes are missing from the videos.

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(c)2016 the Lake County News-Sun (Lake County, Ill.) at www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/lake-county-news-sun

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