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Couple Accused of Embezzling From Palos Heights Fire District 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: 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:

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