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updated: 6/3/2019 1:05 PM

Police: DeKalb man embezzled $279K from Aurora construction business

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A DeKalb man faces felony theft charges alleging he stole about $279,000 from an Aurora construction firm where he worked as comptroller.

Michael J. Leali, 63, of the 100 block of Holly Street, is accused of writing 136 checks from Aurora-based Area Construction Trades to himself from Aug. 14, 2013 through Jan. 22, 2014, according to Aurora police and Kane County court records.

Leali worked as comptroller for the company from April 15, 2011 through Feb. 3, 2014, authorities say. The company sued him earlier this year in Kane County court.

According to Aurora police, Leali told his secretary in fall 2013 there might be some unauthorized charges on a company credit card, but he would take care of it.

In January 2014, the company owner confronted him about unauthorized credit card charges, but Leali blamed it on his children, police said. The owner investigated further and discovered the alleged theft, authorities say.

"The defendant admitted to stealing the monies and stated it was due to having a gambling addiction," according to police. "The length of time between offense discovery and ultimately charges being levied was compounded by the tedious nature of the financial investigation and the victim's initial hesitation to pursue the matter criminally."

The company, which does business under the name of Metal Deck Supply, sued Leali earlier this year, arguing its insurance provider covered $250,000 of the $279,000 losses, but he is responsible for $67,500.

The company argues auditors hired to assess the damages billed them $38,500. The $38,500, plus the $29,000 of losses not covered by insurance, make up the $67,500 figure, according to the suit.

"Company representatives continue to discover additional unlawful acts committed by Leali that has resulted in additional damages to ACT," the lawsuit alleges.

Leali has not yet been arrested. Craig Mielke, who is Leali's attorney in the lawsuit, declined to comment when informed of the criminal charges.

But he contends the civil litigation should be dismissed because it was filed after a five-year statute of limitations expired. Mielke argues Leali's last day at ACT was Jan. 23, 2014. The lawsuit was filed Jan. 31, 2019.

"There are no damages which continue to accrue and the full extent of ACT's damages were completely known to ACT almost three years prior to the filing of the (lawsuit)," reads part of Mielke's motion to dismiss the case.

The two sides are next due in court for the lawsuit June 18.

If convicted of the most severe charges, Leali faces a punishment ranging from probation to up to 15 years in prison, along with restitution.