Imprisoned in ‘90s for huge bank fraud scheme, Tinley Park man back in trouble
By Lauren FitzPatrick Sun-Times Mediaemail@example.com September 22, 2011 1:10PM
Cindy and Bill Stoecker. He’s charged with fraud in connection with her remodeling business. | SouthtownStar
Updated: November 10, 2011 5:08PM
He was busted in the state’s biggest bank-fraud scheme, forced to relinquish his private jets and art collection.
He joined his wife’s home renovation business after serving years in federal prison, transforming Tinley Park “starter houses” into grand Victorian-style affairs.
He tried to rehab his own image.
Yet Bill Stoecker is in trouble again.
Stoecker,54, of Tinley Park, and his former office manager have been indicted on a slew of fraud, theft and identity theft charges in connection with his wife’s home remodeling business. Prosecutors say they used a client’s credit card to pay off debts for Atherton Industries in December 2009 and January 2010 instead of buying siding and drywall for her New Lenox house.
He walked into the county courthouse in Bridgeview Thursday in civilian clothes to hear the indictment and enter a plea: Not guilty.
Bail was set for him at $150,000, and at $30,000 for Susan Olszak, 46, of Florida. Both were led to the courthouse lockup. Both bonded out.
“I’m not a monster,” Stoecker said on the telephone later Thursday. “The homes are done, and they’re beautiful and I’m proud of them.”
Stoecker, a former chief and founder of Grabill Corp., was accused in 1995 of masterminding the “largest bank fraud scheme ever charged” in Illinois history and duping some of the country’s biggest banks into loaning him tens of millions of dollars. He’d pledged the same Grabill assets as collateral for several bank loans, and some loans had been obtained based on fabricated financial information about Grabill and its roughly 30 subsidiaries, prosecutors alleged.
The Oak Forest native already had been acquitted at a previous trial on bankruptcy fraud charges.
The federal judge who sentenced Stoecker to almost8 years in prison and ordered him to repay $115 million in restitution said he hoped Stoecker would “draw from this experience” and “use the years ahead of you productively.”
Investigators say there are more victims of the fraud they currently allege. Complaints to police in several south suburbs led to the investigation.
Among those complaining are Brad and Karolyn Rosello, a couple who contracted with Atherton in 2007 to renovate a home in Palos Heights. They filed one of the many lawsuits in Cook County that Atherton now faces, so they declined to comment. But the Rosellos’ suit, filed in 2010, said Atherton didn’t pay its subcontractors, which resulted in liens against their house. They said they ended up paying more than $300,000 to Atherton, plus $40,000 directly to subcontractors to erase the liens.
Atherton Industries was involuntarily dissolved on Sept. 9, according to the Illinois Secretary of State. Its phone number has been disconnected, and another business has taken over the space at its Tinley Park address.
Defense attorney Mark Hickey, who’s represented Atherton in civil court, said he’s seen photos showing that Stoecker did provide new siding for the New Lenox home.
“From the outside the house is beautiful,” he said.
Hickey chalked up some of Atherton’s problems to buyer’s remorse during a recession.
“It may be a case, as I see often, with buyers who have champagne taste with a beer budget,” he said.