CHICAGO (CBS) — The bookkeeper for a Chicago company embezzled more than $1.5 million over a period of four and a half years to pay gambling debts she racked up at Indiana casinos, the Cook County Sheriff’s Department announced Thursday.

Julie Nowaczyk, 50, of the 3800 block of West 82nd Place in the Ashburn neighborhood, has been charged with felony theft, according to a news release.

Nowaczyk worked for more than a decade at ENR General Machining Co. in Chicago, the last 10 as a bookkeeper. In July 2010, the company owners suspected losses in their business accounts and conducted an analysis of financial records.

The review showed that since February 2006, Nowaczyk had written more than 300 unauthorized checks to herself, entering them into company ledgers as payments to vendors or petty cash, the release said. She also allegedly made several electronic transfers to personal credit card accounts.

The losses were making it hard for the business to stay afloat and make payroll, and the financial review showed that Nowaczyk skipped some payments to other employees’ 401K accounts, the release said. The owners were forced to mortgage their homes to keep the firm going.

The total amount stolen was more than $1.5 million, the release said, and much of the money was used to offset more than $1.2 million Nowaczyk incurred in gambling losses at Indiana casinos.

In court Thursday, bond for Nowaczyk was set at $10,000 and a preliminary hearing was set for Feb. 10.

Contributing: Sun-Times Media Wire

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