East Chicago’s name is at odds with its location. If you travel east of the city, you wind up in Lake Michigan. But if you go south of the city and then slightly east, you’ll find yourself in East Chicago.
The modest city of about 30,000 is home to a pair of businesses that shared a bookkeeper. The 45-year-old Indiana woman has been charged by law enforcement officials with two counts each of felony theft and fraud on a financial institution.
Authorities allege that she stole $740,792 from the two East Chicago businesses: Indiana Strip & Consulting Services and Trai-Core Processing.
According to a news article, one of the owners of the businesses contacted East Chicago police after he noticed that his company’s bank account had issued a $9,711 payment to a credit card belonging to the bookkeeper.
He told police that the woman explained that his company had been late on a supplier payment, so she had covered the payment with her credit card. She told the owner that she had then been repaid from his company’s bank account.
He claimed that she later admitted taking $50,000 from his business. He said she later sent a message conceding that she owed “a lot more” than she had admitted to in person. She said in her message that she was “leaving because I don't know how to face you.”
An audit reportedly showed that the thefts began in 2015, with $591,123 missing from Indiana Strip Steel, and another $149,669 from Trai-Cor Processing.
She had served as bookkeeper for a dozen years, the news article stated.
White collar crime punishment can be severe. Convictions for fraud and felony theft can mean years in prison.
Anyone facing similar allegations should immediately contact an attorney experienced in white collar defense before talking to prosecutors or investigators.