Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM
One day before she was scheduled to be paroled on identity theft charges, a former Aurora resident has been charged with stealing nearly $200,000 from needy families.
On Monday, Aurea Picasso, 45, was charged with theft from a government agency. She is accused of stealing funds from Hanover Township’s welfare program, where she was director from 2003 to 2009, the Cook County state’s attorney’s office said.
Picasso was scheduled to be paroled today after serving part of a three-year sentence for an unrelated identity theft.
As welfare director for Hanover Township, Picasso was responsible for providing welfare checks and running the food pantry. Prosecutors said that during that time she had access to the township’s checkbooks and a checking account provided by the Salvation Army for emergency situations. Picasso is alleged to have written $124,560 in checks to pay for personal dental work, car insurance, cell phones and bills for her daughter’s Sweet 16 birthday party, prosecutors said.
Prosecutors also accuse Picasso of signing family and friends up for township welfare benefits. When those checks were processed by the township, Picasso would then forge signatures and deposit the money in her personal account, prosecutors said. She took an additional $68,550 this way, prosecutors said. In total, she is accused of taking $193,110, prosecutors said.
Picasso is the 11th person charged in Operation Cookie Jar, a Cook County investigation into theft or financial crimes by public employees.