Teresa Wolande earned more than $200,000 annually working as chief financial officer for an Elmhurst-based ambulance service, but still stole money from the company to pay for vacations, repairs on her Mercedes and even her $15,000 tax bill.
The thefts totaled about $42,000 and began in May 2009 shortly after Wolande was hired by Superior Air-Ground Ambulance Service to oversee its finances, DuPage County prosecutors said.
The 52-year-old Wolande pleaded guilty Wednesday to felony theft and forgery charges as part of a plea deal with prosecutors that enabled her to avoid a prison term.
Instead, Judge Daniel Guerin sentenced Wolande to four months in the DuPage County Jail - though she will be released during the day to work. He also placed her on 21/2 years of probation and ordered her to pay $42,000 in restitution - a payment prosecutors said she already has made.
Her boss said he was satisfied with the penalty imposed on his former employee, but remains "baffled" why Wolande stole company funds within months of being hired.
"It's so hard to understand why someone would do this. Even to this day, I scratch my head," said Superior President David B. Hill III, who had known Wolande for 10 years before hiring her to run his company's finances.
Wolande wrote several checks on company accounts to pay personal expenses, prosecutor Helen Kapas said, including a $15,000 check to pay her federal income tax bill.
Wolande, who lives in northwest suburban Wayne, also used company funds to pay for a $7,500 ski trip to Vail, Colo., a $5,400 vacation to Captiva Island in Florida and to cover a $946 bill for work on her Mercedes-Benz, Kapas said.
The scam was discovered by company officials when a sharp-eyed accountant noticed Wolande's Social Security number on the check to the IRS, Kapas said.
Superior officials launched an internal audit, then turned the results over to DuPage County authorities.