Grayslake woman will repay $17,000 she stole from Frederick School PTO
The former treasurer of a Grayslake school parent teacher organization who has pleaded guilty to stealing money from the group will pay $17,000 in restitution, an amount victims say is less than what was taken.
As part of her sentence, Elizabeth Bako, 42, of the 300 block of Woodland Drive in Grayslake, was ordered to repay money she stole from the Frederick School PTO between April 2011 and May 2012.
Bako was due to have a hearing Friday in front of Lake County Judge Victoria Rossetti to decide restitution in the case. Instead, the $17,000 amount was agreed to before the hearing in a settlement worked out between Lake County Assistant State's Attorney Scott Turk and defense attorney Chris Lombardo.
When the restitution hearing was replaced by the agreed settlement, some Frederick School PTO officials were furious and stormed out of the courtroom.
"We are very disappointed the state would reach an agreement without the PTO's support prior to the restitution hearing we prepared for," said Jodi Cinq-Mars, assistant principal of Frederick School. "We are more than confident our black and white evidence would have proved that (Bako) had taken significantly more than the $17,000 she was ordered to pay."
She said the PTO group believed more than $20,000 was taken.
Bako was not required to appear in court Friday, and Lombardo declined to comment after the negotiated settlement.
Lake County State's Attorney Mike Nerheim said Turk has been in contact with the PTO representatives throughout the court case, and the "restitution agreement presented in court was in line with the evidence presented in the case."
Bako was sentenced to 24 months of probation, 100 hours of community service, and must write a letter of apology to the PTO after she pleaded guilty to a single count of felony theft Dec. 19, 2013.
She was also ordered to stay away from Frederick School and not have violent or threatening contact with any school administrators or officials with the Frederick School PTO.
Former PTO President Katherine Rasmussen said the apology letter has not yet been received.
"I'm thrilled the kids are getting some of the money back," Rasmussen said. "But, it should have been more."
Had Bako been found guilty at trial, she would have faced a maximum of five years in jail.
She has already paid a $10,000 deposit toward the total restitution. If she pays the remaining $7,000 before Dec. 19, the charge against her can be reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor.
Frederick School serves students in grades 5 and 6 in Grayslake. The school is part of Grayslake Elementary District 46.