Employee at Chicago machinery company charged with embezzling more than $1.5 million

A longtime bookkeeper for a small Chicago machinery company has been charged with embezzling more than $1.5 million from the business and gambling most of it away on slot machines at Indiana casinos.

The thefts, which Cook County, Ill., authorities say went on for four and a half years, nearly forced ENR General Machining Co. into bankruptcy, according to a report in the Chicago Tribune.

The alleged thief, Julie Nowaczyk, 50, who worked for ENR for 12 years, lost more than $1.4 million gambling at three northwest Indiana casinos, mostly on slot machines costing $25 to $50 a pull, authorities said.

ENR’s owners, brothers Richard and Eugene Szydlo, took out mortgages on their homes and put up their own savings to meet payroll and make up for 401(k) payments to employees that Nowaczyk pocketed, according to prosecutors.

The Tribune report said the alleged thefts came to light in July after the company asked its banker to look into why it was inexplicably losing money.

But Nowaczyk’s attorney, Joel Brodsky, disputed the allegations. “It’s a business with 22 people,” he said. “You would think if they were a million and a half short, it wouldn’t take years to figure out.”