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Crime & Courts

Romeoville volunteer accused of $100,000 theft from church, school

ROMEOVILLE – A volunteer treasurer is accused of stealing more than $100,000 from a church and school over a four-year period, police said.

Deborah Suchomel, 51, volunteered to keep the books for Good Shepherd Lutheran Church Preschool on Alexander Circle several years ago, Deputy Chief Steve Lucchesi said.

Suchomel had also been secretary of the church council. A special meeting held to discuss finances in August 2011 revealed the church had a monthly deficit of $4,000 of expenses not covered by weekly offerings, according to the church's "Rod and Staff" newsletter.

Suchomel handled finances from 2009 until April 2013 after the church received a noticed from the IRS about taxes owed, Lucchesi said. When further checking showed $24,000 was missing from church funds, an outside auditor was hired.

The Rev. Suzanne Anderson-Hurdle said Suchomel was removed from her position at that time. A May 2013 online newsletter noted the council decided to cut or scale back several activities after another special meeting was held.

"Our financial situation continues to be a difficult one. The Church Council has taken the necessary steps to get our financial house in order but ... due to the potential costs of hiring an attorney, auditor, additional hours for our pastoral assistant ... we are finding our expenses to exceed our current income," the newsletter noted.

"They discovered approximately $106,000 in missing money and notified the police," Lucchesi said. Detectives reportedly confirmed Suchomel had written checks to herself for cash and obtained a warrant for her arrest on felony theft charges.

Suchomel, of Romeoville, turned herself in to police and was released after posting $7,000 bail. She is next scheduled to appear in court Feb. 11.

Anderson-Hurdle said church staff have cooperated with the police and state's attorney's office, but had no comment.

"We are praying for all involved," she said.

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