22 Aug 2014
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Wife in Embezzling Case Could Get Plea Deal

Michelle Sopko, her attorney and Cook County prosecutors will discuss plea deal options in a meeting next month.

Wife in Embezzling Case Could Get Plea Deal

An Oak Forest woman accused, along with her husband, of embezzling more than $350,000 from a suburban fire protection district could enter a guilty plea in return for a deal from prosecutors, Sun-Times Media reports.

Cook County prosecutors have not yet offered a deal to Michelle Sopko, but options will be discussed during a meeting June 23, according to the report.

Sopko is charged with misconduct and forgery, after it was discovered she allegedly funneled $352,000 from Palos Heights Fire Protection District's payroll and accounts payable system into the couple's bank account over the course of 30 months. She was fired from her job as a part-time bookkeeper/administrative assistant with the fire district in December 2012.

Prosecutors allege she manned a ghost payroll system through which the district paid two fictional employees—and herself for overtime she didn't actually work, according to the report. She then obscured the theft with false financial reports, prosecutors allege.

Charles Sopko, Oak Forest's former deputy fire chief, faces charges of felony theft, conducting a financial criminal enterprise and forgery. He as been suspended from his role with the department. He is not involved in any plea bargaining.

The two appeared before Cook County Circuit Judge John Hynes Monday. They are currently under house arrest, but may travel with Hynes's permission.

Charles still sits on the Oak Forest Park District Board of Commissioners, though one board member previously insisted that he should resign. On April 24, He attended his first board meeting since his arrest. He has since been spotted spectating at Oak Forest Fury Lacrosse matches. 

Michelle Sopko maintains her husband's innocence in the scheme. 

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