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Another Husband Wife Tag-Team Caught Dipping

OAK FOREST, ILLINOIS, DEPUTY FIRE CHIEF Charles Sopko, 47, and his wife Michelle, 45, were arrested Thursday at their home and charged with theft of government property, a felony.  They are accused of stealing more than $350,000 from Michelle's former employer, the Palos Heights Fire Protection District.

 sopko mugCharles and Michelle appear to be unhappy having their pictures
taken by the Cook County Sheriff.

The Chicago Tribune tells us http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/ct-palos-heights-fire-district-arrests-met-1220-20131220,0,1091870.story :

Earlier this year, a new Palos Heights Fire Protection District chief noticed discrepancies in the district's financial records and asked the Palos Heights police and Cook County sheriff's department to investigate, according to the sheriff's department.

The agencies said they found that Michelle Sopko had diverted about $352,000 to a bank account she shared with her husband.

Michelle Sopko had worked for the fire protection district from October 2008 to December 2012, when she was fired for unrelated reasons, the office said. She allegedly had diverted the money between 2009 and 2012.

Palos Heights police Detective Gerry Wodka said Sopko was able to take the money because she was responsible for financial records, working with auditors and preparing reports for the fire protection district's treasurer and board.

"She pretty much had control over all the books, and people in these positions trusted the information was correct," Wodka said. "The fact that she was removed from her position prevented her from going back and covering her tracks."

They are scheduled for a bond hearing today (Friday).

Oak Forest Patch has more:  http://oakforest.patch.com/groups/police-and-fire/p/wife-of-oak-forests-deputy-fire-chief-arrested-for-alleged-embezzlement .

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