Urbana school leader charged with eavesdropping on board meeting

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URBANA, Ill. (WAND) – A district leader in Urbana is accused of eavesdropping on a school board meeting.

Investigators say 35-year-old Samuel Byndom, assistant superintendent of student learned in Urbana School District 116, placed a recorder pen in a closed board meeting on Oct. 28. The board, which did not include Byndom, was planning to talk about employment issues.

School board members were aware of the pen before the meeting after a district worker discovered a confirmation email for a “SpyGuy” voice activated recorder pen. It was meant to be delivered overnight to Byndom’s home on Oct. 26. Board members found it hidden in the meeting room before the closed session and removed it, according to Champaign County State’s Attorney Julia Rietz.

"The Board of Education and USD 116 Administration is disheartened to learn of today's announcement and are fully cooperating with the Urbana Police Department and the State's Attorney's Office," the district said in a statement. "The school district does not comment on specific personnel issues or ongoing investigations and would refer all questions to the Champaign County State's Attorney's Office." 

A press release says Byndom talked about not being able to find a “memo pen” when the meeting was over. Investigators searched Byndom’s house on Oct. 30, where investigators say they found packaging and cords for the pen. A website description for the pen says it can discreetly record conversations from as far as 40 feet away.

Byndom is expected to be arraigned in court on Nov. 29. The eavesdropping charge he’s facing is a class 4 felony and could mean between 1 and 3 years in prison. He could face probation.

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