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Oak Forest Couple Accused of Embezzling Out on $10K Bonds

A judge ruled this week that the money used to pay for their individual bonds didn't come from their alleged embezzlement of more than $350,000 from the Palos Heights Fire Protection District, Sun-Times Media reports.

Charles and Michelle Sopko | Credit: File Photos
Charles and Michelle Sopko | Credit: File Photos
Charles and Michelle Sopko were released on a $10,000 bond each Wednesday and Thursday, respectively, after a hearing determined that the money used to pay them was not part of the more than $350,000 in funds they're accused of embezzling from the Palos Heights Fire District, Sun-Times Media reports.

READ: Check Out the Full Sun-Times Media Story for More Details

Charles, a deputy chief with the Oak Forest Fire Department on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of an internal investigation, will be living with his parents after the release, the report stated. Michelle, who was a part-time employee of the Palos Heights fire district, will stay at the couple's Oak Forest home, the report added.

The two will be back in court Monday, Jan. 13, at the Bridgeview courthouse.

Charles Sopko also asked the Oak Forest Fire Department to buy out more than $4,000 in unused sick time from 2013 less than two weeks before the couple's Dec. 19 arrest, the Sun-Times Media report stated.

READ: Oak Forest Residents React to Sopkos' Arrest, Accusations

The Sopkos are accused of funneling $352,938 from the Palos Heights Fire Protection District and into a shared bank account. The embezzlement included collecting overtime payments which she did not earn, nor was entitled to earn. She also created a ghost payroll in which she directed payments to two nonexistent employees into her own account, using a former employee's social security number to create the phantom employees.

CORRECTION (1:11 p.m. Friday, Jan. 10): An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated Charles Sopko's employment status with the Oak Forest Fire Department. It has been corrected.

Read More on the Sopkos Case:
Joe Vince January 28, 2014 at 11:39 AM
@Sue1: What public works department director are you referring to? When was this? Also, the Sopkos both face the same charge: felony theft of government property over $100,000. —Joe Vince, Tinley Park and Oak Forest Patch
jack hess January 30, 2014 at 11:01 AM
Joe . Sue is talking about Mike Feeley who was convicted in federal court over 10 years ago. Feeley was convicted of receiving kick backs from contractors doing business with the City of Oak Forest. Feeley was sentence to 8 years in the federal penitentiary. Feeley resigned from the city of Oak Forest as head of public works. Feeley wife was not charge because she did not have any knowledge according to federal agents assigned to this case. Also two contractors were sentence to federal prison time, Al Grove and i can't remember the other one. Joe do you know if the Fire Chief is on paid leave? Joe how about filing a freedom of information with the City of Oak Forest to see if the Fire Chief is on paid leave? Thanks Joe for keeping the citizens up dated on this matter.
Michael M. January 30, 2014 at 11:07 AM
My understanding is the Chief is on paid leave for medical reasons. Probably falls under FMLA and it is normal to be paid for this type of leave if one has sick or vacation time.
jack hess February 06, 2014 at 11:37 AM
Hey Joe Vince what going on with the Sopko's? No more news or just a cover up. Was the patch told not to put out anymore information on this case?
b February 06, 2014 at 01:22 PM
Hey Jack, would you be shocked if there is a gag order put on the Sopko case?

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