Police believe she might have fled to the west or even out of the country. It’s also possible she spent some or much of her time “hiding in plain sight.”
In any event, former hospital employee Erika H. Luna now makes her home in DuPage County Jail in Wheaton, after allegedly having been a fugitive from justice for 11 years. The accused forger’s luck ran out after Naperville police stumbled upon her while investigating a traffic crash in a parking lot.
The 45-year-old Luna last lived in Montgomery, and worked in the Human Resources Department of Rush-Copley Medical Center in Aurora. She faces trial in DuPage County and Kane County on a total of 11 felony charges of issuing or delivering a forged document, for allegedly cashing more than $10,000 worth of checks in 2002 that had been made out to former hospital employees and job applicants.
Naperville police arrested Luna about 5:23 p.m. Feb. 26 on the College of DuPage’s Naperville campus, at 1223 Rickert Drive in the west-central part of the city.
Sgt. Bill Davis said police were sent there that afternoon following a report of a minor traffic crash in the school’s parking lot. Police ran a check of Luna’s identification and determined three warrants had been issued for her arrest, he said.
Davis added a preliminary police report did not indicate whether Luna had caused the crash, was the victim of it or had merely witnessed it.
Luna, while working at Rush-Copley, apparently began forging checks in late 2001 and early 2002. Dan Ferrelli, the city of Aurora’s director of public information, said police reports and an examination of court documents revealed Luna allegedly “forged, cashed and deposited into her own, personal accounts … checks belonging to past hospital employees.”
Aurora police began investigating Luna in April 2002, after a Rush-Copley human resources official “was contacted by someone who was going to be an employee at the hospital and attended an orientation session in 2001, for which she was supposed to be paid,” Ferrelli said.
The job applicant “ended up not taking the position with the hospital, and never received a paycheck,” Ferrelli said. “However, she did receive a (federal) W2 form at the end of the year,” for taxes owed on that paid orientation.
Hospital officials “looked into the discrepancy, and found that Ms. Luna allegedly forged the paycheck and deposited it into her own, personal account,” Ferrelli said. “A further check of hospital records uncovered numerous other, similar, instances” of reputed fraud, he said.
Luna in 2002 was indicted by grand juries in DuPage County and Kane County because Rush-Copley is in DuPage County, while the two accounts into which she allegedly deposited the forged checks were at banks in Kane County. The fraud allegations total $5,500 in the DuPage County case and $4,600 in Kane County.
Records on file in DuPage County Circuit Court indicated Luna in early January 2003 failed to appear for a scheduled court hearing there. A judge on Jan. 7 of that year ordered her bond forfeited and issued a warrant for her arrest, according to records.
Kane County Circuit Court records showed Luna on Jan. 16, 2003 failed to appear for a scheduled hearing in that courthouse. A judge that day ordered forfeiture of her $4,050 bond and signed an arrest warrant, records indicated.
Ferrelli said Aurora police “hunted extensively” for Luna before concluding she had fled to either Nevada or Mexico. Attempts “to confirm those findings came up negative,” he said.
It was not known how long Luna worked for Rush-Copley Medical Center. Courtney Satlak, the hospital’s public relations manager, on Tuesday said hospital officials had no comment on Luna’s employment history or arrest.
A court hearing is scheduled for Friday for Luna in DuPage County. A court date had not been set as of Tuesday in the Kane County case.