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Chicago Symphony Chorus Man Charged With Swindling The Group

August 8, 1987

CHICAGO (AP) _ A member of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Chorus has been indicted on charges of stealing $47,000 from the chorus director, a choral foundation and a scholarship fund, authorities said.

Prosecutors said Christopher Graves, 40, a tenor in the chorus, used most of the money to pay restaurant bills.

A Cook County grand jury on Friday accused Graves of embezzling the money over two years while working as administrative assistant to Margaret Hillis, the director of the American Choral Foundation and the choral director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

Investigators said Graves started with the symphony chorus part time in 1975 and worked up to full-time second tenor. In August 1984, Ms. Hillis hired Graves as a part-time administrative assistant, and he later became her full- time assistant.

Chicago Police Detective James Mack alleged Graves took $24,700 from donations made to a choral scholarship called the Hillis Fellowship Fund.

Mack said Graves allegedly set up a bank account, with himself as sole signator, and deposited the scholarship donations in that account.

The indictment also alleges that Graves embezzled $15,600 from the American Choral Foundation and $6,700 from Hillis’ personal checking account.

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