Initially, Niles Police thought they were investigating an armed robbery. Civilian Niles Police Department employee Gary Amato was en route to make a $44,000 bank deposit in January, and told police three men had threatened him with a gun, stabbed him and robbed him.
On Friday, the Cook County State's Attorney's office said Amato admitted concocting the story and took the money himself. Amato did have a stab wound, though spokesman Andy Conklin of the State's Attorney's Office stopped short of saying Amato stabbed himself.
Amato was charged with theft of government property, a Class 2 felony; official misconduct, a Class 3 felony; and workmen's compensation fraud, a Class 4 felony, according to Conklin. He could face up to seven years in prison.
In the scope of Amato's duties as a civilian police department employee, he sometimes took Village of Niles money to the bank to be deposited. On the morning of Jan. 18, Conklin said, Amato volunteered to take the deposits, about $4,000 in cash and $40,000 in checks, to PNC Bank at 9101 Greenwood.
, Amato, who was driving an unmarked black village vehicle and wearing a police operations uniform, said he was attacked by three Hispanics men about a block before he arrived at the bank. He said they pepper-sprayed him, threatened him with a gun, stabbed him in the shoulder and took the bank deposit bags with the cash and checks inside.
The incident took place at the intersection of Davis and Grace streets, just south of Golf Mill Park, which is just south of Golf Mill Shopping Center.
Police arrived on the scene that day to find Amato wounded and blood on the snowy ground.
Conklin said Friday that evidence gathered by law enforcement substantiated that Amato staged a fictional event to steal money from the village of Niles, to establish a worker's compensation condition and establish permanent disability.
"Physical, circumstantial, testimonial and surveillance video evidence established that he concocted the story," Conklin said.
Amato admitted to investigators that he had lied about the being attacked by the three men, and he admitted disposing of the bank bags, Conklin said.
Amato's next court appearance will be Aug. 16 in the Skokie branch of the Cook County courts.
Niles Police Chief Dean Strzelecki was not available for comment Friday afternoon.
Patch will update the story as more information becomes available.