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.

Michelle Sopko.
Michelle Sopko.

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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Dr G May 13, 2014 at 05:25 PM
jim v May 14, 2014 at 09:07 AM
A plea deal would not be fair to the residents of Palos Heights.
bob busch May 14, 2014 at 10:32 AM
My mother was a bookkeeper for a factory credit union.If she was so much as a penny off in her books she would have a fit and not stop until she found that cent. This was when it was all done by hand,no computers. Being raised in such a background makes me wonder where in the hell was the oversight?the district needs to demand payment from her and their auditors.
jack hess June 03, 2014 at 03:03 PM
Every tax payer is going to get SCREW. Especially Oak Forest citizens. Since the good old boy and girls politicians of Joke Forest granted Charlie Sopko a paid leave . Some politicians lied to the Oak Forest Citizens , stating that Their boy Charlie was under union contact, that why he got a paid leave. Well that turn out to to a BIG LIE! See Charlie is a Deputy Chief which is MANAGEMENT! Charlie does not belong to any UNION. The right thing to do was suspended Charlie the good old boy without pay. If by some miracle he not found not guilty then give his back pay. Citizens of Oak forest asks yourself why is this town so corrupt. This is the second time a Oak Forest Fire Deputy Chief has been in criminal financial troubles. The first was Lindsey Laycose. The good of boys and girls of Joke Forest also did not pursue criminal charges against him . Who got SCREW? The Tax payers of Oak Forest. I think the TAX PAYERS SHOULD FILE A CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT against all these crook politicians and the Oak Forest POLICE and FIRE COMMISSIONERS to received our TAX MONEY BACK WHEN the COURT FINDS CHARLIE GUILTY ! You know that he is going to say he broke and bankrupt.


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