A former Yale School of Medicine employee stole $40 million in computers and electronics from the school and sold the goods to fund a lavish lifestyle that included luxury cars, multiple properties and trips, prosecutors said.
Jamie Petrone, 42, of Lithia Springs, Georgia, pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud and one count of filing a false tax return on Monday in Hartford federal court in the case, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Connecticut announced in a news release.
She allegedly ran a scheme for eight years starting in 2013, causing Yale to lose out on a total of $40,504,200, prosecutors said.
Petrone started work for Yale’s medical school in the emergency medicine department in 2008, according to officials. She most recently served as the department’s director of finance and administration.
In her position, Petrone had the authority to make and authorize purchases for the department with a cap of $10,000, the release stated.
Since at least 2013, she ordered, or had other staff order, millions of dollars worth of electronic hardware, such as Microsoft Surface Pro tablets and iPads, from vendors using Yale Med funds. Petrone then arranged to have the hardware shipped to an out-of-state business in New York, which resold the goods, prosecutors said.
That business then wired funds into an account for a company called Maziv Entertainment LLC, in which she is a principal, according to prosecutors.
Petrone allegedly falsely represented on Yale internal forms and electronic communications that the hardware was for specified medical school needs, prosecutors said. She also broke up the purchases into orders below the $10,000 threshold to avoid requiring any oversight, according to the release.
Prosecutors said that Petrone used money from the sales of the stolen goods for personal expenses such as real estate, travel, and expensive cars. In the case, she’s had to forfeit six luxury cars: two Mercedes-Benz vehicles, two Cadillac Escalades, a Dodge Charger and a Range Rover, according to the release.
She also failed to pay taxes on the money from the stolen equipment, causing a loss of over $6 million to the U.S. Treasury, prosecutors said.
According to the release, Petrone filed false federal tax returns from 2013 to 2016 in which she claimed the costs of the stolen equipment as business expenses. She did not file any federal tax returns from 2017 through 2020, prosecutors said.
The investigation, conducted by the FBI and IRS, into Petrone’s fraud scheme started in August 2021 based on information provided by Yale, an affidavit in the case stated.
Petrone estimated that about 90 percent of her computer-related purchases were fraudulent, she said in a voluntary statement to law enforcement, according to the affidavit.
She was arrested in September 2021 and later released on a $1 million bond pending her sentencing, officials said.
Petrone has already lost some of the luxury goods she purchased for herself with the allegedly stolen money.
She agreed to forfeit over $560,000 seized from the Maziv Entertainment LLC bank account, in addition to the six cars. Petrone also liquidated three Connecticut properties she owns or co-owns to satisfy her restitution obligation. A Georgia property she owns is also subject to seizure and liquidation, prosecutors said.
“Ms. Petrone has accepted responsibility for her actions and is remorseful,” Petrone’s attorney, Frank J. Riccio II, told NBC News Wednesday morning. “She now looks forward towards sentencing and repairing some of the damage that has been caused.”
The charge of wire fraud carries a maximum prison term of 20 years and the charge of filing a false tax return carries a maximum term of three years.
Her sentencing is scheduled for June 29.