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Former Vedder Price office manager, three vendors are accused in alleged $7M embezzlement

Posted Jun 16, 2014 7:18 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Updated: A former office manager at Vedder Price and three of the law firm’s vendors have been accused in an alleged $7 million embezzlement scheme.

Former office manager Patricia Lapinski is accused of plotting with her sister and two other vendors to create invoices for goods and services that were never delivered, report the Daily Herald and the Beacon News.

Prosecutors say Lapinski and her sister, Deborah Acuna, created a company, DAS Designs, that reaped $6.4 million in illegal profits between 2002 and 2013. The company, created in the late 1980s to provide office furniture for Vedder Price, continued to bill for services after Lapinski began using a different furniture company, according to prosecutors.

Prosecutors say the sisters bought “lavish homes, numerous vacations and other amenities” with the money.

Lapinski, 66, and Acuna, 61, both from suburban Oak Brook, Illinois, are charged with theft exceeding $1 million, the stories say.

Two other law firm vendors are accused of entering the scheme in 2011. The vendors, James Bauer, 62, of North Aurora, and David Leisen, 57, of Frankfort, are charged with property theft, the stories report. Prosecutors allege they were paid $950,000 for services never provided.

Vedder Price issued a statement about the allegations against Lapinski and the former vendors. "We internally discovered and put a stop to the scheme in 2012 and, shortly thereafter, terminated the employee and reported it to the authorities," the firm said. "Her activities had nothing to do with the firm’s clients, nor did they involve other employees of the firm. It is unfortunate that Vedder Price was the victim of this breach of trust by a former employee of over 30 years. The firm already recovered a substantial portion of the funds, and expects to recover more."

Story updated at 10:30 a.m. to include statement from Vedder Price.

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