Married Palos fire officials charged with stealing $350K - KMSP-TV

Married Palos fire officials charged with stealing $350K

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Michelle Sopko and Charles Sopko. (Cook County Sheriff's office) Michelle Sopko and Charles Sopko. (Cook County Sheriff's office)
OAK FOREST, Ill. (Sun-Times Media Wire) -

A former southwest suburban fire district administrative assistant and her husband, a deputy fire chief, were arrested Thursday, accused of diverting more than $350,000 in public funds to their personal bank account.

Michelle Sopko and Charles Sopko each were charged with felony theft of government property over $100,000, a spokesman for the Cook County Sheriff's office told the SouthtownStar.

Michelle Sopko, former administrative assistant for the Palos Heights Fire Protection District, allegedly diverted $352,000 in district money to the couple's joint bank account.

She last worked for the district nearly a year ago, and was fired for unrelated reasons, according to the sheriff's office. She worked there from October 2008 through December 2012, and part of her job duties included handling the district's payroll and paying expense.

Sheriff's investigators were tipped to the investigation after the new Palos fire chief contacted them about discrepancies in the department's financial records that took place before he took over, the spokesman said.

Michelle Sopko is also a member of the Arbor Park School District 145. Charles Sopko, deputy fire chief in Oak Forest, is also vice president of the Oak Forest Park District, according to the districts' websites.

Both scheduled to appear for a bond hearing on Friday.

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