A former northwest suburban township official was sentenced Wednesday to six years in prison after admitting she stole nearly $200,000 meant for the needy to pay for personal expenses, including her daughter's Sweet 16 birthday party.Obviously that was a resume enhancer.
Aurea Picasso, 45, formerly of Aurora, pleaded guilty to one count of theft of government funds before Judge Vincent Gaughan imposed the sentence. She has been in jail awaiting trial since her arrest last October, one day before her scheduled release from prison on an unrelated identity theft conviction.
Picasso worked six years for Hanover Township as welfare director, providing welfare checks to the needy and running a food pantry. Her position gave her access to the township's checkbooks as well as a checking account provided by the Salvation Army for emergencies.
Prosecutors said Picasso wrote $124,560 in checks from those accounts to pay for dental work, car insurance, cellphones and other bills, prosecutors said. She also signed up family, friends and others for welfare benefits through the township, then forged their signatures on $68,550 in checks and deposited them in her personal bank account.
At the time she was hired in 2003, Picasso was awaiting trial on charges she stole $25,000 in state welfare funds during her previous job as a caseworker for the Illinois Department of Human Services. She pleaded guilty later that year and was sentenced to two years of probation, records show.
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