Feds: Former Burnham clerk stole from taxpayers, gambled at Ind. casinos

2014-05-06T13:47:00Z 2014-05-22T12:55:18Z Feds: Former Burnham clerk stole from taxpayers, gambled at Ind. casinosGregory Tejeda Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
May 06, 2014 1:47 pm  • 

CHICAGO | Former Burnham Village Clerk Nancy Dobrowski was charged Tuesday with stealing more than $650,862 from her public office and gambling most of it away at Indiana casinos.

Dobrowski, 70, was charged in federal court with one count each of wire fraud and filing a false federal income tax return, representatives from U.S. attorney's office in Chicago said in a news release.

Dobrowski was first elected in 1980 and remained in the post until she resigned in May 2013, just a month after being elected to another term. Her resignation coincided with FBI agents executing a federal search warrant at the clerk's office.

Federal officials said Dobrowski will plead guilty to the charges. No date has been set for her arraignment in federal court.

Village President Robert Polk and current Village Clerk Lus Chavez were not immediately available for comment Tuesday.

The telephone number was disconnected at a listing for Dobrowski in Burnham, The Associated Press reported.

Prosecutors said between 2004 and her resignation, Dobrowski took cash paid by the public for fees and fines totaling $650,852. She allegedly recorded false totals of tow bond money to make it appear the village collected less than it actually received

She is accused of using the tow bond money to balance the books, prosecutors said.

In some cases, she deposited cash into her personal bank account, then withdrew it from ATMs at the casinos. She also allegedly took cash directly to the casinos.

Most of the casinos were in Indiana, prosecutors said. Federal officials would not specify which casinos Dobrowski frequented.

Prosecutors said Dobrowski tried to cover up her actions by making false entries in the village’s record books.

Dobrowski allegedly waited a week before depositing cash into the village’s bank accounts, instead of making deposits on a daily basis. The practice allegedly allowed her to use funds the village received later in the week to make up for funds she had taken previously.

The moved allowed for deposits to match the incoming revenues.

Prosecutors said Dobrowski tried to conceal her activity by failing to record checks received as payment for village fees and services. Unrecorded checks would be put into the register to compensate for cash she had allegedly taken.

She also is alleged to have disposed of a cash register tape that would have shown the village revenues did not match deposits into village bank accounts.

The charge of filing a false income tax return relates to 2012, when prosecutors say she reported a net income of $309,181 when she had a “substantially greater income."

Wire fraud carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, or alternately a fine totaling twice the gross loss or gain, whichever is greater.

Filing a false federal income tax return carries a maximum penalty of three years in prison, a $250,000 fine and mandatory costs of prosecution. Restitution is mandatory and she is liable for back taxes, interest and a civil penalty of up to 75 percent of the amount owed.

Burnham is a small village encompassing 2 square miles nestled between Calumet City, Chicago's Hegewisch neighborhood, the Indiana state line and Dolton.

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