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.