A Grayslake woman pleaded guilty in Lake County court Thursday to stealing money from the Frederick Elementary School parent teacher organization while serving as its treasurer.
Elizabeth Bako, 42, of the 300 block of Woodland Drive, was sentenced through a negotiated settlement to 24 months of probation and 100 hours of community service after pleading guilty to one count of felony theft in front of Judge Victoria Rossetti.
As part of her sentence, Bako was ordered to stay away from Frederick School unless otherwise approved by probation, and to not have violent or threatening contact with any school administrators or officials with the Frederick School PTO.
She was ordered to write a letter of apology to the PTO for stealing money between April 2011 and May 2012. She is also not allowed to use illegal drugs or alcohol, is not allowed to go to any location whose primary purpose is the sale of alcohol, and is on a curfew from 10 p.m. until 6 a.m., according to the terms of the plea deal
"We're very relieved to have this done," said Carol Turnbull, one of a dozen members of the Frederick School PTO who attended Thursday's hearing. "And, we are very happy she pleaded guilty to the charge in open court."
Bako was also ordered by Rossetti to pay restitution on the money taken from the PTO. However, attorneys for both sides are not certain at this point how much was taken.
Bako, who has paid a $10,000 deposit toward restitution, will return to court Jan. 24 for a hearing where Rossetti will decide how much additional money will need to be paid back.
"I have full confidence that Mrs. Bako will do what is right to make the PTO whole again," defense attorney Christopher Lombardo said. "Mrs. Bako regrets any hardship caused by this matter and is pleased to resolve this matter today."
Also as part of the plea agreement, Bako could request to have the charge reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor should she pay restitution by Dec. 19, 2014.
Bako was facing a maximum of five years in jail after she was indicted on felony counts of theft in November 2012. Authorities alleged she stole between $10,000 and $100,000 while serving as the Frederick School PTO treasurer. Bako has been free on bond since charges were filed against.
Frederick School serves students in grades 5 and 6 in Grayslake. The school is part of Grayslake Elementary District 46.
"First of all, we are saddened this ever happened in our town and feel for the innocent victims, including Mrs. Bako's family," representatives of the Frederick School PTO said through a written statement after Thursday's hearing. "We are pleased that now we are able to return some of the money (Bako) stole back to the school we love and volunteered so many hours to help. We look forward to the restitution hearing so we can recover the rest of the stolen funds and make the facts public."