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Judge Lets Accused Million-Dollar Toy Thief Await Trial At Northbrook Home

CHICAGO (STMW) -- A Northbrook woman accused of using her long black skirt to pilfer toys across America with her husband and daughter may await trial at home, a federal judge said Thursday.

But Lela Bogdanov would be wise to avoid any toy stores.

U.S. District Judge Andrea Wood said Bogdanov may leave her tony north suburban home on Weller Lane only for medical appointments, court appearances and visits with her lawyer. The judge released Bogdanov into the custody of her son — who was not charged in the family scheme — on a $1 million bond secured by the family's home.

"I'm showing faith in you," Wood told the grateful Bogdanov, who thanked the judge through an interpreter during a morning hearing.

The feds last year accused Bogdanov — along with her husband, Branko, and daughter, Julia — of stealing from the shelves of stores in at least six states in five months. They allegedly took American Girl dolls, boxes of Lego bricks, a children's laptop and a Furby robotic toy. They said it all ended up in Lela Bogdanov's specially constructed long black skirt, which had secret compartments stitched in for the shoplifted loot.

Added together, the toys and goods the Bogdanovs sold with a fence on eBay over the last decade fetched them more than $4.2 million, court papers state.

Michael Goode, Lela Bogdanov's attorney, said in his own filings that his client is "in reality" charged with shoplifting. The case would have wound up in a Skokie courtroom, not the Dirksen Federal Courthouse downtown, had it not been for the dollar amount at issue, he wrote.

Goode asked the judge to release Lela Bogdanov because of the woman's "horrific health history." He said she recently had abdominal surgery to remove several nodules and tumors, and was even bleeding from a wound during a court appearance.

Meanwhile, an attorney for Branko Bogdanov said a $14,000 tax bill is due July 1 on the family's Northbrook home. Sheldon Sorosky claimed the government froze a bank account filled with $22,000 that might help pay the bill, but Assistant U.S. Attorney Renato Mariotti said he had nothing to do with it. Noting it's "hard to believe" the Bogdanovs have no other funds available, Mariotti promised to "see what I can do" about freeing up the cash.

The Bogdanovs are next expected in Wood's courtroom July 22.

(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2015. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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