An arrest warrant has been issued for the past president and co-founder of the not-for-profit Chain O' Lakes Fireworks organization, alleging she stole more than $500 over about 18 months.
The Fox Lake police arrest warrant for Noreen Michael, 47, of Ingleside claims she intended to permanently deprive the July 4 fireworks fund of more than $500 after she gained unauthorized control of its bank account between April 2011 and Dec. 26, 2012.
Fox Lake police Lt. Mark Schindler confirmed the arrest warrant was issued Friday and that it was for theft from the Chain O' Lakes Fireworks Fund. But he said he could not discuss details of the case until after Michael is arrested. It's unknown when that would take place, Schindler said.
If found guilty of the felony at trial, Michael could be sentenced to 2 to 5 years in prison, authorities said. She could also be sentenced to probation.
Officials from the Chain O' Lakes Fireworks group would not comment individually on Michael or the investigation. However, a message on its Facebook site acknowledged the arrest warrant.
"The NEW committee has safeguards in place to ensure that this type of activity no longer happens," the statement reads. "When the committee discovered past irregularities, we brought the information to the police and have cooperated fully in their investigation."
In addition, the committee has posted financial statements on its website at keepthesparkalive.com and tells anyone with additional information about the theft to contact Fox Lake police.
Michael was applauded for stepping in and helping form Chain O' Lakes Fireworks in 2009. Pete Jakstas, owner of the Mineola Marina and Lounge, had organized the Mineola Bay fireworks until 2007.
In the past, Michael helped to raise more than $20,000 in the organization's first year to put the July 4 show back on barges on Fox Lake after it was moved to land in 2008.
It's unclear when Michael stepped down from the organization, but she was quoted in a 2012 article in the Daily Herald as being a director with the organization and trying to raise $15,000 for the event.
The committee has established a goal of raising $25,000 in 2014, according to the group's website, and it has collected $17,000 so far.