Just 4,500 people live in the sleepy south suburb of Burnham.
But over the course of a decade, former Village Clerk Nancy Dobrowski stole the equivalent of nearly $150 from each and every one of them, the feds say.
And added together, the money the 70-year-old Dobrowski allegedly stole from Burnham taxpayers and spent at Indiana casinos added up to more than $650,000.
Charged Tuesday, Dobrowski has agreed to plead guilty, federal prosecutors say.
Her case did not come as a surprise.
Dobrowski — who was first elected in 1980, and continued to win re-election even after she filed for bankruptcy in 2004 — resigned from office in June last year on the same day the FBI raided Burnham Village Hall.
She’d been pocketing cash from both the village cash register and village towing fees, and understating how much money that the village had collected so that she could go on gambling sprees, a two count criminal information alleges.
She also allegedly cheated on her taxes in 2012 when she reported income of $309,000 — a figure that didn’t include the loot she’d stolen from Burnham, the feds say.
Even before the FBI raid last year, village workers had complained to the Better Government Association about irregularities with their pay stubs.
Money that was supposed to be in retirement accounts wasn’t there — at least as reflected on statements, the BGA reported last year. Some paychecks were arriving months late, and automatic payments set up through the village were also taking months to go through.
One worker once got two pay stubs for the same pay period, each showing different amounts. Union dues were deducted on one, but not the other. Another employee said he fell behind in child support payments, even though the money had been taken out of his checks. And as the wife of one Burnham municipal worker found out, insurance premiums weren’t always being paid to the insurance carrier.
The woman told the BGA how she ended up in the emergency room only to find her health insurance had been canceled due to lack of payment — though premiums were supposed to be automatically deducted from her husband’s check and forwarded to the insurer.
If Dobrowski pleads guilty, as prosecutors say she will, she faces up to 20 years in prison and a $1.3 million fine.
Neither Dobrowski nor her lawyer nor Burnham Mayor Robert Polk returned calls seeking comment Tuesday.
Contributing: Katie Drews. Better Government Association