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BLOOMINGTON — It's not uncommon for embezzlement to go undetected for years, according to a 2016 study of more than 2,000 major embezzlement cases reviewed by Marquet International, a Massachusetts litigation and security consulting firm.

Women are twice as likely to embezzle but men steal twice as much as female workers, said the study that listed the desire for a more lavish lifestyle and gambling addiction as the two major causes of work-related theft.

A Clinton woman used money taken from her employer, a Clinton medical practice, to purchase expensive clothing, airline tickets and pay personal bills, according to charges that resulted in her guilty plea in September to federal wire fraud charges. Veronica Luster was accused of taking more than $400,000 from Dr. Farrukh Kureishy.

The doctor told a federal judge that he trusted Luster as if she were family and was devastated to think she had been involved in the ongoing embezzlement.

A gambling addiction may have been behind the alleged theft of more than $10,000 from LeRoy's Replex recreation facility by former director Joe Rodts, according to Thomas Pliura, attorney for the Leroy Park District, owner of the Replex. The alleged addiction was disclosed during an investigation into the missing funds, said Pliura.

The opportunity to take money and a lack of oversight are common elements of embezzlement, said the LeRoy lawyer. "Nobody ever expects it will happen to them."

Another pending case related to the former U.S. Cellular Coliseum involved the alleged loss of $16,000. Curtis Webb, the arena's former executive director, was fired in October 2016 after VenuWorks, which took over arena management April 1, 2016, discovered improper credit card charges.

The Iowa-based management firm has pledged to reimburse the city for the losses.  

Former McLean County Board Chairman Matt Sorensen will report to federal prison authorities in November to serve a year and a day on wire fraud charges related to his role in a scheme to bill State Farm for more than $450,000 in consulting work that was never performed.

He apologized in federal court recently for participating in the conspiracy with Navdeep Arora, a former Chicago consultant who also has pleaded guilty. No motive has been disclosed for the thefts.

Follow Edith Brady-Lunny on Twitter: @pg_blunny



Public Safety Reporter

Public safety reporter for The Pantagraph.

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