A Gurnee woman who pleaded guilty to stealing from her employer, a Rolling Meadows attorney, was sentenced to 30 months probation and ordered to pay $37,000 in restitution, court records show.
That's nearly $50,000 shy of what 50-year-old Carmen Strothers took, says her former boss Dwight Adams, who says he feels "terribly betrayed" by the woman he trusted, a woman who worked for him for 23 years and whom he considered part of his professional family.
"I was always easygoing," he said. "I figured no one would ever steal from me. I never considered an inside job."
Unbeknown to Adams, Strothers, of the 1600 block of Millstone Lane, forged his signature on blank checks from his retirement account that she stole from his desk, said the attorney, who was planning to retire from his law practice of 46 years.
"Stupid me for trusting people," he said, adding, "it's my fault for not watching close enough."
Strothers continued forging his signature on checks and depositing them into her account at another bank even after he fired her in June 2013 in the wake of an office reorganization, Adams said.
He discovered the missing funds in December after his bank alerted him that his retirement account was overdrawn.
"Greed got her caught," said Adams of the theft, which was discovered after he says Strothers wrote a $7,500 check to a Gurnee car dealership.
Strothers did not return phone calls seeking comment.
Adams said he's determined to get full restitution and intends to sue Strothers and her bank, which Adams says cashed checks made payable to and endorsed by him even though he doesn't have an account at that bank. Adams, who has since hired an accountant, advises employers to get a safe, put all their account information into it and "watch everything like a hawk."