Yale employee stole $40 million worth of computers from school to fund lavish lifestyle

According to prosecutors.

On Monday, Jamie Petrone, 42, of Lithia Springs, Georgia, pleaded guilty to wire fraud and filing a false tax return, according to the Connecticut District Attorney’s Office.

Petrone is accused of implementing an eight-year plan from 2013, with Yale’s losses totaling $40,504,200.

Officials said she started working in the school’s emergency medicine department five years prior in 2008 and most recently worked as director of the finance and administration department.

Petrone had the “authority to make and authorize certain purchases for departmental purposes so long as the amount of the purchase was less than $10,000,” the Department of Justice (DOJ) said in a press release.

She began ordering, herself or through other staff, electronic devices worth millions using Yale Medicine funds, arranging for the items to be shipped to a company in neighboring New York State in exchange for payment. The New York company then resold electronics, including Microsoft Surface Pro tablets and iPads.

Prosecutors said the New York company sent the money to Maziv Entertainment LLC, of ​​which Petrone is a lead. She allegedly incorrectly stated in internal forms and electronic communications that the material was for the medical school. She made sure each order was under $10,000 to avoid any oversights, the DOJ said.

The U.S. District Attorney’s Office in Connecticut said she used the money for real estate, expensive cars and travel.

She was forced to give up six vehicles: two Mercedes-Benzes, two Cadillac Escalades, as well as a Dodge Charger and a Range Rover.

The US Treasury lost more than $6 million because it failed to pay taxes on the stolen funds, the DOJ added. They said she filed inaccurate federal tax returns between 2013 and 2016, claiming the stolen materials were business expenses. Between 2017 and 2020, she did not file a federal return, prosecutors added.

The investigation began in August of last year and was led by the FBI and IRS. An affidavit in the case says Petrone said in a voluntary statement that it estimated about 90% of its electronics purchases were part of the fraudulent scheme.

After being arrested in September 2021, she was released on $1 million bail pending sentencing.

In addition to the luxury vehicles, $560,000 was also seized from Maziv Entertainment LLC’s bank account.

“She has also agreed to liquidate three Connecticut properties she owns or co-owns to help satisfy her restitution obligation,” the DOJ said Monday. “A property she owns in Georgia is also subject to seizure and liquidation.”

Petrone’s attorney, Frank Riccio, told NBC News on Wednesday that she “has accepted responsibility for her actions and is remorseful.”

“She now looks forward to sentencing and redressing some of the damage that has been done,” the attorney added.

The maximum sentence for wire fraud is 20 years in prison and the longest sentence for filing a false tax return is three years. Petrone is due to be sentenced on June 29.

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