Two workers are accused of stealing nearly $400,000 from a Chicago nonprofit that provides help for people with HIV, leaving it on the brink of closure after more than three decades, prosecutors said.
Andrea Peoples, 42, of Burr Ridge was charged with felony theft of more than $100,000, while her co-defendant and close friend Tijana Timatyos, 54, of Hillside, was charged with theft of over $10,000.
A Cook County judge on Thursday ordered Peoples to be held on $50,000 bond, and granted Timatyos a personal recognizance bond, releasing her so she could attend physical therapy but under a curfew, the Chicago Tribune reported.
Prosecutors said the thefts from Chicago House enabled the women to finance a lavish lifestyle that included Peoples making significant purchases at “high-end” retailers, including Neiman Marcus and Louis Vuitton.
Peoples, who had been the nonprofit’s chief financial officer, used “various methods to steal” a total of $350,142.45, while Timatyos’ thefts totaled $48,588.47, Cook County Assistant State’s Attorney Paul Kiefer said in court.
Chicago House discovered the financial irregularities last year and contacted Chicago police, prompting a joint investigation with the FBI.
The nonprofit has been supporting individuals and families affected by HIV since 1985 with housing, health, and employment services, according to its website.
When it discovered the funds were missing, Chicago House was “three days away from shuttering” because it was unable to complete payroll, pay rent or provide services, Kiefer said.
Peoples’ attorney, Robert Wise, said she is “not a danger to society” or violent, is unemployed, and has never missed court on a different, pending case.
Attorney Genevieve O’Toole said her client, Timatyos, lives with her three children and her granddaughter, is living on unemployment and has a “significant” health condition that requires medication.
Both women were due back in court on March 25.