Police: Former Christian Liberty Academy official stole $293,000 from school
The former chief technology officer at Christian Liberty Academy in Arlington Heights is facing felony theft charges after he stole nearly $300,000 from his ex-employer, authorities said.
Michael Burrei, 41, had his bail set Wednesday at $100,000. Prosecutors said he admitted the theft to police earlier this year. He is charged with theft from a school or place of worship and continuing a financial crimes enterprise.
Prosecutors said Burrei created a PayPal account that allowed purchases to be made by students or parents from the school's online store. The account was managed solely by Burrei.
Burrei served as a school administrator for nearly four years, authorities said. He is accused of transferring roughly $293,000 during a 15-month period between August 2013 and November 2014 from the school's account to his personal account through more than 100 electronic transfers.
The money taken was largely from families purchasing curriculum, textbooks and other resources from Christian Liberty Academy's large home-school ministry called CLASS, Christian Liberty Academy School System, said Pastor Calvin Lindstrom.
At the same time, investigators determined Burrei was incurring extensive personal expenses, spending upward of $35,000 a month from his checking account, authorities said. It is unclear what he was purchasing with those funds.
Authorities said Burrei closed the PayPal account in December 2014 without permission from his superiors. When school officials discovered the account was closed and had no money in it, they confronted Burrei, who denied responsibility and claimed the account had more than $273,000 in it.
Burrei resigned from the school in January 2015 and moved to Tennessee.
After he left, the school reached out to the police for help, Lindstrom said.
Investigators from the Arlington Heights Police Department traveled to Burrei's new home and confronted him about the missing money, authorities said.
According to a news release from the Cook County state's attorney's office, Burrei "admitted to making the transfers" and agreed to turn himself in to authorities in Illinois.
"We're thankful to the Arlington Heights Police Department and the assistant state's attorney for investigating this matter and taking it seriously," Lindstrom said. "We are praying justice will be served."
Lindstrom said the school has not recouped any of the lost funds yet, but is hopeful that will happen as a result of the court case.
Burrei's next court date is slated for April 22.
• Daily Herald staff writer Melissa Silverberg contributed to this story.