Grayslake woman accused of owing money she stole from PTO
A Grayslake woman is accused of not fulfilling her probation terms, in part by failing to repay the entire $17,000 she admitted stealing from a school's Parent Teacher Organization branch, according to documents filed in Lake County circuit court.
Elizabeth Bako, 44, of the 300 block of Woodland Drive, could be resentenced to local jail time or prison, depending on whether Lake County prosecutors decide to seek having her probation revoked through a civil proceeding. Bako's "outstanding financial obligations" and incomplete public service time are why prosecutors are being asked to pursue revocation of her probation on the day it's supposed to end, court documents state.
Bako was sentenced to 24 months' probation Dec. 19, 2013, after entering a negotiated guilty plea for stealing $17,000 while treasurer of the Frederick School PTO in Grayslake. Frederick serves fifth- and sixth-graders in Grayslake Elementary District 46.
Ahead of Bako's Dec. 18 court appearance, Lake County adult probation services division officials filed documents claiming she still owes $6,375 in restitution. They requested Bako's probation be revoked.
Lake County state's attorney's office spokeswoman Cynthia Vargas said prosecutors have received the probation division recommendation for Bako filed Nov. 25. She declined to comment further.
"Now, it's back in the investigative mode," Vargas said.
Bako declined to comment Tuesday night. It's not known whether she has an attorney.
Court documents show Bako still must perform 72½ of 100 hours of community service that were part of her two-year probation sentence. She also is accused of failing to pay $1,152 for probation services and $919 in court costs that were assessed as part of her plea deal entered before Lake County Circuit Judge Victoria Rossetti.
Had Bako been found guilty at trial, she would have faced a maximum of five years behind bars for admitting she stole from the Frederick School PTO from April 2011 to May 2012. She pleaded guilty to one count of felony theft under her plea bargain.
When prosecutors file a petition to have probation revoked, a judge is asked to resentence the defendant. If the defendant denies the accusation and the petition proceeds, prosecutors must prove their civil case through a preponderance of evidence -- a lower threshold than beyond a reasonable doubt in a criminal trial.
Katherine Rasmussen, a former Frederick School PTO president, criticized Bako for not repaying the $6,375 as claimed in the court documents. Rasmussen, Mary Grogan and Kendra Clark and were lauded by the District 46 board in October for keeping the organization afloat after the theft.
"Our number-one priority is and always will be the kids, and the fact she has not paid back the children speaks to her character," Rasmussen said.
Rasmussen said the $6,375 would pay for benches and handicapped-accessible equipment at a fitness course outside Frederick School that debuted before the 2015-16 academic season and is meant for community use.
Bako paid $10,625 in restitution to the PTO in 2013. The money went toward the $11,000 expense for the fitness trail, which includes pullup bars and a situp board adjacent to a bicycle path along Frederick Road.