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Grabill Corp. Fraudster Back in Jail on New Charges

Bill Stoecker, of Tinley Park, the man behind the biggest bank fraud case in Illinois history, is back in trouble on new fraud charges.

A home remodeler from Tinley Park is in jail today, accused of using a client's credit card to pay his debts instead of buying supplies for the New Lenox homeowner he was working for.

Bill Stoecker, 54, of Tinley Park, appeared in court Thursday to face charges of fraud, theft and identity theft. He pleaded not guilty and bail was set at $150,000, according to Sun-Times Media legal reporter Lauren FitzPatrick.

Prosecutors allege that Stoecker used the client's credit to pay debt incurred by Atherton Industries, a high-end home remodeling firm based in Tinley Park that does custom renovations. 

Also charged was business manager, Susan Olszak, 46, of Florida.

Folks in the South Suburbs may remember Stoecker as the man behind Oak Forest-based Grabill Corp., where he concocted the largest bank fraud con in Illinois history, convincing big banks to give him more than $100 million. The college dropout then forged letters from his creditors and pocketed some of the cash to finance a lavish lifestyle. In 1989, the Justice Department launched an investigation into Stoecker, at the time a popular 31-year-old financial hotshot.

The businesses he owned under Grabill were diverse. They made guns, tow truck parts, even caps for Chicago cops.

Ultimately, he was sentenced to nine years in federal prison.

The Chicago Tribune at one time thought Stoecker, with an estimated net worth of $250 million to as much as $500 million, deserved to be on the Forbes list of the richest people in America, according to Forbes:

In 1987 the Chicago Tribune ran a gushing feature headlined, "The Oak Forest Whiz Whom FORBES Missed," about one Bill Stoecker, described as a 30-year-old entrepreneur with many companies and a $250 million net worth. The response from FORBES: a 1988 article suggesting Stoecker's fortune was mostly debt and little equity. Within two years he went bust ...

Stoecker is among those featured in the 2003 book Con Men: Fascinating Profiles of Swindlers and Rogues, by the producers of 60 Minutes.

Authorities believe there are more victims in Stoecker's most recent business dealings.

Joe Rosenthal September 23, 2011 at 03:25 AM
Round II baby, round II. Hope your file crosses my desk AGAIN.
Summer September 23, 2011 at 12:46 PM
I would love to know how the Village of Tinley Park has allowed these felons to build these obnoxiousely huge homes in and around Tinley Park, especially with there reputation! I have talked to people who have really been TAKEN by Atherton. Drive thru Parkside. It's nuts! It looks terrible - a monsterous home on a 50-55 foot lot next to a 1950's ranch! Once a felon - always a felon!
Barb September 24, 2011 at 12:19 AM
I blame the homeowners that allowed themselves to build and design their own home Summer not Atherton or Bill Stoecker. Atherton didn't put a gun to their head. The homeowner picks out everything and now all these people have these huge houses and didn't expect the outcome of high taxes and a poor economy! Get your facts straight!!
sandy September 24, 2011 at 03:30 AM
The article isn't about the size of the houses, it is about committing Fraud again. I have dealt with Atherton on a remodel job at my home. I feel sorry for every person that had to deal with this company or Bill Stoecker.
So There September 24, 2011 at 01:39 PM
He's just a greedy man with no regard for anyone but himself. I guess being in prison didn't do much to turn him around.
Summer September 24, 2011 at 04:24 PM
Barb, I happen to know one of the 'taken' familys. Examples: extras after the fact > bedroom door handles, kitchen drawer handles and knobs, lots more. Once a thief always a thief! Obviously you are sticking up for what he has done to people - not once but twice!
Michelle September 24, 2011 at 10:06 PM
The houses are a great addition to the neighborhood. It's too bad that he was so greedy because he could of had a good thing going. His problem was telling clients that he could build these great houses on unrealistic budgets and then they were slammed with extra costs and unpaid contractors in the end.
Barb September 24, 2011 at 11:14 PM
Summer, there is no way a contractor or even a homeowner for that matter can set a budget and stick to it. Something always comes up so budget atleast 5-10K over budget for utilities etc when building a house especially as big as Atherton makes or custom home. If you choose a builder that built 100's of the same home, they know exactly how much something costs. I believe innocent until prove guility but can't imagine why the guy would want to go to jail twice??
mike September 28, 2011 at 06:34 PM
Bill is a crook. My Brother did a job for him and never paid him. And we grew up with the guy. Lived a couple of houses down the street. He dserves all punishment received.
Bill Stoecker February 29, 2012 at 03:50 AM
"Barb"... no doubt that's short for Bill Stoecker. By design, he destroyed the financial and emotional lives of a score of families. These families continue to sort out and deal with the fallout while he vacations in Arizona. Nobody really cares who YOU blame "Barb", because you are the one who needs to get your facts straight.
NANCY GRACE November 10, 2012 at 02:08 PM
How much of the stolen money did he spend?
Emmy November 15, 2012 at 10:25 PM
No one has been able to trace the money. We suspect he's been hoarding it out of state. There are millions of dollars that are unaccounted for.
D. Blake January 03, 2013 at 06:17 PM
We used Atherton on our home rebuild and luckily we came out not "too" bad. We closed on our home June 2009 & moved in July 2009. We tried to refinance our loan in Spring 2010 at which time we were informed that we couldn't because we had a lien on our property from the framing company on our project, which we never received a notice on until after the fact. We had to hire an attorney to fight this stupidity which costed us $8,000. Our claim was "How could we have closed on our home in summer 2009 if there was a lien on our property?". The closing company should have also been named in our suit but never were. I'm sure it's another of Atherton's buddies that let it go through. Don't get me wrong, we love our home which, is not that big as some & what we expected but Atherton had issues all along, i.e. never reading our City Building Code that clearly stated new construction required sprinkler systems & seperate water line for such, which was a huge hit to our budget as we were never informed of such requirements. I agree with the once a crook always a crook, & unless you dealt with Bill Stoecker yourself, you don't know how he could talk & explain things. He gave us a fake name when we first met him & when rumors started about him & Atherton, he admitted to us, he didn't tell us his real name in the beginning because he was afraid we would look him up & find out about his past. My husband & I have now decided to chalk it up to experience but, we would never build again!
mary medina March 19, 2013 at 02:28 PM
I would never rebuild or remodel again either. This whole situation has basically traumatized me. We lost our home just over 2yrs ago, on a project bill started in 2007. It still breaks my heart and makes me cry to think of what we lost. Its not about the money, but about the peace and tranquility we had on our property. My slice of heaven.

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