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Housekeeper charged with theft from Azumah

CHICAGO (May 14, 2006) -- Former Bears defensive back Jerry Azumah allegedly had more than $250,000 stolen from him by a housekeeper.

Wanda Zielinski, 41, has been charged with forgery and theft by deception and was ordered held on $200,000 bond during a court hearing.

Zielinski, who was hired to clean Azumah's condominium in March 2005, allegedly forged and deposited 19 stolen checks into her personal bank account worth more than $250,000, according to court documents.

Prosecutors said there's a chance Azumah may be able to recover some of the stolen funds because $173,000 was invested in certificates of deposit or placed into savings.

"The remainder of the amount has been spent," Assistant State's Atty. Molly Riordan said.

The first forged check for $2,900 was dated April 31, 2005, court documents show. Twelve of the checks were for $17,000 each, including the last one she deposited. That check was dated March 26, three days after Azumah announced his retirement.

Azumah, a Pro Bowl kick returner in 2003, was drafted in the fifth round of the 1999 draft. He spent his entire seven-year career with the Bears. In explaining his decision to retire, Azumah cited neck and hip pain.

A message left at a telephone number for a Wanda Zielinski in Chicago wasn't immediately returned.

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