Madigan: Employee stole $1 million from Wirtz Beverage

A 48-year-old Rockford-area woman is accused of stealing more than $1 million over six years from Schaumburg-based Wirtz Beverage, a liquor wholesaler and distributor run by Chicago Blackhawks Chairman Rocky Wirtz.

Linda Bessert of Winnebago was charged with felony counts of theft over $1 million and theft over $500,000, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan announced Thursday in a statement.

While working as an office manager out of the company’s Rockford office, Bessert processed customer payments and was responsible for sending those deposits to the bank by armored car, according to the statement. She’s used her position to steal $1,058,293 between July 2004 and October 2010, Madigan said.

Bessert is being held on $500,000 bail. If convicted of the more serious theft over $1 million charge, she faces a mandatory prison sentence of six to 30 years.

“These allegations show that the defendant devised and executed a scheme to deceive her employer and steal over $1 million,” Madigan said. “This prosecution will ensure she will be held accountable for these illegal acts.”

Madigan brought the case based on an investigation and referral from the FBI.