www.redeyechicago.com/news/breaking/chi-oak-forest-deputy-fire-chief-wife-accused-of-stealing-350k-20131219,0,398956.story

redeyechicago.com

Oak Forest deputy fire chief, wife accused of stealing $350K

By Angie Leventis Lourgos

Tribune reporter

12:47 PM CST, December 19, 2013

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A former administrative assistant for the Palos Heights Fire Protection District and her husband – a deputy fire chief in Oak Forest - are accused of stealing more than $350,000 from her former employer, officials said.

Michelle Sopko, 45, and Charles Sopko, 47 of Oak Forest were arrested this morning and each charged with one count of theft of governmental property, a felony. They were scheduled to appear for a hearing at the Bridgeview Courthouse on Friday.

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

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

Michelle Sopko had worked for the Palos Heights fire district from October 2008 to December 2012, when she was fired for unrelated reasons, the office said.

Her job had included preparing and issuing payroll checks and paid district expenses.