Four from suburbs charged in embezzlement scheme

The Cook County State's Attorney's office has charged four suburban residents with embezzling more than $7 million from a Chicago law firm.

Patricia Lapinski, 66, and Deborah Acuna, 61, both of Oak Brook, are charged with theft of more than $1 million. They face up to 30 years in prison if convicted, prosecutors said. Lapinski and Acuna are sisters, investigators said.

James Bauer, 62, of North Aurora, and David Leisen, 57, of Frankfort, are both charged with theft of property and face a maximum of 15 years behind bars if convicted, authorities said.

Prosecutors said Lapinski, the former office manager at the Chicago law firm Vedder Price, schemed with three vendors - Acuna, Bauer and Leisen - to create fake invoices for goods never delivered or services not performed, and pocket the funds.

According to court papers, starting in the late 1980s, Vedder Price bought office furniture from a company called DAS Designs, which was owned by Lapinski and Acuna. In 2002, Lapinski shifted all orders to a different company, but continued to pay DAS Designs for services no longer provided, prosecutors said.

Between 2002 and 2013, Vedder Price paid DAS Designs more than $6.4 million, which Lapinski and Acuna pocketed and used for personal purchases of luxury homes, vacations and other amenities, prosecutors said.

In 2011, authorities said Lapinski schemed with Bauer and Leisen to falsify invoices for goods and services not delivered from their respective companies. The two men were paid $950,000 during that time, and Lapinski kept some for herself, authorities said.

The scheme was discovered in 2013 and Lapinski was fired, prosecutors said.

The four are next scheduled to be in court June 26.

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