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Naperville woman sentenced in 12-year-old Aurora theft case

Naperville Police cruiser.
File photo

Maybe “the long arm of the law” has gotten a little arthritic. How else to explain why it took more than 11 years for it to catch a Naperville woman charged with embezzlement?

But catch her it did, last Wednesday, to be specific. That was when Elizabeth A. Russell was formally found guilty and sentenced to jail for stealing more than $10,000 from the service station in Aurora where she was working back in 2002.

Spokesmen for the Aurora and Naperville police departments and the DuPage County state’s attorney’s office said they don’t know where the now-60-year-old Russell has been for all these years. Naperville police finally took her into custody on March 12 at her home on the 1300 block of Modaff Road, in the central part of the city.

Records on file in DuPage County Circuit Court in Wheaton revealed a judge issued a warrant for Russell’s arrest on May 28, 2003.

Aurora spokesman Dan Ferrelli said police reports indicated Russell became the target of an investigation in July 2002, while working at a Mobil service station on the 300 block of North Eola Road in Aurora.

Police determined between July 26 and Sept. 24, 2001, Russell “deposited numerous company money orders into her own checking account, and/or made them out to creditors for personal expenses,” Ferrelli wrote earlier this year in an email. “She apparently did this by falsifying daily reports to indicate that a vendor was paid to cover the amounts.”

“This all came to light due to an internal audit performed by Mobil, after financial improprieties during that time period came to light,” Ferrelli’s email continued. The embezzlement exceeded $10,000, with a felony theft charge approved on April 30, 2003 by the state’s attorney’s office and an arrest warrant issued the next month, he said.

Ferrelli added “there was nothing in the reports indicating where (Russell) may have been” all that time.

Naperville police Sgt. Bill Davis said his officers merely made the arrest, and were not charged with looking for Russell. Paul Darrah, spokesman for State’s Attorney Robert B. Berlin, said members of his agency, too, did not know where Russell had been since the issuance of the arrest warrant.

Russell on Wednesday pleaded guilty to an amended, misdemeanor charge of attempted theft, Darrah said Friday. Judge Daniel P. Guerin accepted the plea and sentenced her to two days in DuPage County Jail.

Guerin also placed Russell on a year of conditional discharge and ordered her to make $10,488.26 restitution to the Exxon-Mobil corporation, Darrah said. The money must be repaid within 10 months.

Darrah said Guerin also fined Russell $165.

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