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Retired Waukegan top cop named county coroner

New Lake County Coroner Artis Yancey speaks press conference following announcement his appointment. At left is Sheriff Mark Curran. |

New Lake County Coroner Artis Yancey speaks at a press conference following the announcement of his appointment. At left is Sheriff Mark Curran. | Michael Schmidt~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: May 11, 2011 4:51PM

WAUKEGAN ­— A retired Waukegan police chief was named Monday to succeed former Lake County Coroner Dr. Richard Keller, who resigned last month after pleading guilty to felony charges stemming from his operation of a methadone clinic.

Former Waukegan Chief Artis Yancey will fill out the remaining 19 months of Keller’s term as coroner after being selected by Lake County Board Chairman David Stolman.

Stolman was required to select a Democrat to replace Keller, who was in his second term as coroner when he resigned after pleading guilty Feb. 22 to obstruction of justice and unlawful delivery of a controlled substance.

As part of his guilty plea, the 56-year-old Keller agreed to surrender his medical license, serve two years on probation, pay more than $4,500 in fines and do 100 hours of community service.

He also was barred from offering medical advice as a doctor and from writing any prescriptions.

Keller was charged for his role in running the Waukegan-based Green Dragon clinic, which authorities began investigating in December 2008 when a patient died after taking methadone prescribed at the clinic with another drug, Xanax.

That patient, 30-year-old Steven Vaughn of Lindenhurst, died on his second day of treatment with methadone, a powerful drug typically used to treat heroin addicts.

Keller wasn’t charged in Vaughn’s death, but ultimately he pleaded guilty to writing an illegal drug prescription for another clinic patient and to not providing records sought by investigators after Vaughn’s death.

Yancey served for 21 years in the Waukegan Police Department — including about 18 months as chief — before retiring last year.

He left the chief’s post a few months after an April 2010 trial in which Lake County prosecutors contended Yancey had been attacked and beaten by North Chicago police officer Carl Sain.

Sain was acquitted of charges he attacked Yancey on June 17, 2009, after finding Yancey at the home of his estranged wife.

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