A former administrator at Yale University stole $40 million under the guise of buying computer equipment for the institution.
Jamie Petrone, who began working for the Ivy league school in 1999, pled guilty to wire fraud and filing false tax returns in court on March 29. She is currently being held on a $1 million bond.
The U.S. attorney for Connecticut estimated in its criminal complaint that 90% of the technology orders she made were fake.
“Ms. Petrone has accepted responsibility for her actions and now looks towards sentencing,” Frank Riccio, Petrone’s defense attorney, said in a statement to the Stamford Advocate.
Petrone began working for Yale’s medical school in 2008. Most recently, she was the emergency medicine department’s director of financing, giving her the authority to authorize equipment purchases without additional approval if the purchases were less than $10,000.
Prosecutors contend that Petrone began making small orders for equipment, including tablet computers, in 2013. In her reports to the university, the administrator would say the equipment was for specific medical studies being conducted at the school.
She would then sell the items to a business in New York, that would send payment to an account Petrone had for a wedding photography and videography company, Maziv Entertainment LLC.
In 2021 alone, Petrone purchased 8,000 tablets to later sell over several small orders. Prosecutors say Petrone ordered $2.1 million of equipment in one 10-week period.
In total, the 42-year-old stole $40,504,200 from the university.
Prosecutors said in court documents that Petrone also defrauded the IRS of more than $6 million after filing false tax returns between 2013 and 2016 and no returns between 2017 and 2020.
Yale ultimately contacted the police after discovering “evidence of suspected criminal behavior,” the school said in a statement.
“She was questioned by her employers at least once, in 2020, about a budget variance and a high volume of computer purchases and explained by saying that her department was updating equipment in addition to working with Yale New Haven Health on a new program,” per The Hartford Courant.
“The university thanks local law enforcement, the FBI, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for their handling of the case,” said Karen Peart, director of university media relations at Yale. “Since the incident, Yale has worked to identify and correct gaps in its internal financial controls.”
Petrone took part in a voluntary interview with the FBI in August of 2021 and admitted to her actions.
“As part of her guilty plea, Petrone agreed to forfeit $560,421.14 that was seized from her accounts, two $135,000 Mercedes-Benzes, a $90,000 Range Rover, two Cadillac Escalades and a Dodge Charger,” reports MarketWatch. “She also has agreed to turn over three properties she co-owns in Connecticut and another in Georgia.”
Sentencing for the case is scheduled to take place in June. Petrone could be sentenced to up to 30 years in prison.