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Article updated: 11/27/2013 5:31 PM

Arlington Hts. woman charged in $597,000 Allstate theft


An Arlington Heights woman charged with taking nearly $600,000 from her former employer, Allstate Insurance Co., is accused of spending the money on credit card payments, tattoos, bail for a family friend and child care for her grandchild, according to court records.

Cook County Sheriff's police arrested Lisa Sterner, 51, on Tuesday at her home on a $500,000 cash bond warrant for charges of theft over $500,000 and money laundering, according to the release.

Sterner appeared in a Chicago court Wednesday, where a judge set her bail at $25,000 cash.

The sheriff's Financial Crimes Unit was contacted in March by Allstate Insurance in Northbrook, which reported that Sterner, a former payment annuity specialist who worked for the company for more than 30 years, had taken money from the company for personal use.

The investigation found that from October 2007 to March 2013, Sterner diverted returned annuity checks electronically into an account under the name of Nicole Sterner, the news release said. The total taken during that period was $597,038.22.

The investigation also showed the funds were transferred using an Allstate computer system ID and password that belonged to Sterner. The returned payments were supposed to be deposited to an Allstate fund. Instead, court records show that Sterner used the majority of the missing money -- $315,000 -- to pay off her monthly credit card bills, with additional money spent at a tattoo parlor, used as bail money to the Cook County jail for a family friend, and to pay for child care for her grandchild.

Sterner was terminated in March. Between January 2007 and March 2013, she legitimately earned $307,000 from the company, the court documents state as a point of comparison.

Allstate discovered the discrepancy earlier this year when a beneficiary contacted the company looking for a payment. The company learned that the payment had been deposited into another account instead.

Sterner is expected back in court at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 3.

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