Former Burnham Village Clerk Charged with Stealing at Least $650,000 from Revenue Payments and Filing False Tax Return
CHICAGO—The former longtime elected clerk for the Village of Burnham was charged today with stealing more than $650,862 from her office at the south suburb’s village hall and using most of the cash to gamble at casinos. The defendant, Nancy Dobrowski, was charged with one count each of wire fraud and filing a false federal income tax return in a criminal information filed in U.S. District Court.
Dobrowski, 70, of Burnham, served as Burnham’s elected clerk from 1980 until she resigned on May 29, 2013, when FBI agents executed a federal search warrant at the clerk’s village hall office. Through her attorney, Dobrowski authorized the government to disclose that she will plead guilty to the charges. No date has been set yet for Dobrowski to be arraigned in federal court.
As clerk, Dobrowski was responsible for managing Burnham’s finances and depositing cash and checks collected by the clerk’s office into the village’s bank accounts.
Between at least 2004 and May 2013, Dobrowski allegedly took cash the village received as payment for fees and fines from the public. She then used most of the cash to gamble at casinos in Indiana and elsewhere either by taking cash to casinos or by depositing the money into her personal bank account and then withdrawing it from automated teller machines at casinos. She falsely represented the village’s finances to auditors and covered up her fraud scheme by causing false entries in village books, according to the charges.
As part of the fraud scheme, Dobrowski allegedly took cash from both the village cash register and the collection of money received as tow bonds. She recorded false amounts of tow bond money that had been received to make it appear that the village collected less cash than it had actually received, and sometimes she used tow bond money to balance the cash register, the charges allege.
To conceal her misappropriation of cash from the village cash register, Dobrowski waited a week to deposit cash into the village’s bank accounts instead of making daily deposits. By delaying deposits, Dobrowski could use funds received by the village in the later week to make up for funds she had taken during the prior week, making the deposit appear to match the revenues despite having taken cash from the register, the information alleges.
Dobrowski allegedly further concealed the scheme by failing to record checks received from the public as payment for village fees and services. She would place the unrecorded checks into the register to compensate for an equal amount of cash she had taken, making the register appear balanced. She provided false information to the village’s outside audit firm regarding the village’s revenues and regularly disposed of the cash register tape to conceal that the village’s revenues often did not match the deposits into village bank accounts.
Dobrowski was also charged with filing a false federal income tax return for 2012, when she reported total income of $309,181, knowing that her total income was substantially greater than that because she failed to report the cash she misappropriated from the village in 2012 as income.
Wire fraud carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine or an alternate 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 defendants convicted of tax offenses remain liable for back taxes, interest, and a civil penalty of up to 75 percent of the amount owed.
The indictment was announced by Zachary T. Fardon, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; Robert J. Holley, Special Agent in Charge of the Chicago Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and James C. Lee, Special Agent in Charge of the Chicago Office of the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation Division.
The government is being represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven Block.
The public is reminded that an information contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt. The defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.