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Former Tribune executive ‘will be arrested’ after missing third court date

Stephanie Pater

Stephanie Pater

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A former Tribune Co. executive facing fraud charges risked the wrath of a federal judge Tuesday when she skipped court for the third time in two weeks.

Stephanie Pater, 39, “will be arrested” and may be locked up, Judge Samuel Der-Yeghiayan vowed after Pater failed to surrender to the court as she’d previously agreed.

The Tribune’s former real estate honcho is accused of bilking the company out of $260,000 while it was in bankruptcy.

Free on a $4,500 recognizance bond, she first failed to show up in court to enter a plea on Jan. 3. When she again failed to show on Jan. 10, Der-Yeghiayan issued a warrant for her arrest.

That warrant was dismissed Friday when Pater passed on a message through her attorney volunteering to turn herself in.

But less than 90 minutes before she was supposed to be in court Tuesday morning, Pater emailed Der-Yeghiayan’s clerk that her flight from New York — where she now lives — to Chicago had been turned back to New York.

The email offered that Pater could be in Chicago by 3:50 p.m. and that she “will come straight to” court, an unimpressed Der-Yeghiayan said, adding that Pater had signed off her email with the words, “I’m very worried.”

Representing Pater, attorney Adam Merrill said it was possible that Pater is “in the air right now.”

But Assistant U.S. Attorney Rick Young said there was no way to verify Pater’s claims, asking that a warrant for her arrest be issued.

The judge agreed, also criticizing Pater’s apparent decision to fly to Chicago the morning of her arraignment. “When there’s an arrest warrant, you fly the night before,” he said.

“I’m going to seriously consider the issue of whether she remain on bond.”

Repeating comments he first made last week, he added, “Ms. Pater does not run this courtroom or the criminal justice system.”

“There is a purpose for courts, there’s a purpose for bonds and she has been indicted.”

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