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A former Yale employee admits she stole $40 million in electronics from the university

Frankie Graziano
WNPR/Connecticut Public Radio

A nearly decade-long scheme to steal millions of dollars of computers and iPads from Yale University's School of Medicine is officially over.

Former Yale administrator Jamie Petrone, 42, pleaded guilty Monday in federal court in Hartford, Conn., to two counts of wire fraud and a tax offense for her role in the plot.

Petrone's ploy started as far back as 2013 and continued well into 2021 while she worked at the university, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Connecticut.

Until recently, her role was the director of finance and administration for the Department of Emergency Medicine at Yale. As part of this job, Petrone had the authority to make and authorize certain purchases for the department — as long as the amount was below $10,000.

Starting in 2013, Petrone would order, or have a member of her staff order, computers and other electronics, which totaled to thousands of items over the years, from Yale vendors using the Yale School of Medicine's money. She would then arrange to ship the stolen hardware, whose costs amounted to millions of dollars, to a business in New York, in exchange for money once the electronics were resold.

Those purchases included iPads and Microsoft Surface Pros, according to court records.

Investigators said Petrone would report on documents to the school that the equipment was for specific needs at the university, like medical studies that ultimately didn't exist. She would break up the fraudulent purchases into orders that were below $10,000 each so that she wouldn't need to get additional approval from school officials.

Petrone would ship this equipment out herself to the third-party business that would resell the equipment. It would later pay Petrone by wiring funds into an account of Maziv Entertainment LLC, a company she created.

Petrone used the money to live the high life, buy real estate and travel, federal prosecutors say. She bought luxury cars as well. At the time of her guilty pleas, she was in possession of two Mercedes-Benz vehicles, two Cadillac Escalades, a Dodge Charger and a Range Rover.

In June 2020, the high volume of equipment orders grabbed some attention at Yale. But it was eventually explained away by Petrone, who said that her department was simply updating its computer equipment.

Her scheme continued successfully until August 2021, when Yale officials received an anonymous tip that Petrone was ordering "suspiciously high volumes of computer equipment," court records state. These orders were made more suspicious by the fact that Petrone was putting some of the packages in her own car.

Later that month, Yale auditors dug into Petrone's purchase orders and her emails, among other things — eventually turning over their findings to law enforcement.

At the time of her guilty plea, she agreed to forfeit the luxury vehicles as well as three homes in Connecticut. A property she owns in Georgia may also be seized.

Petrone has also agreed to forfeit more than $560,000 that was seized from the Maziv Entertainment LLC bank account.

Federal prosecutors say the loss to Yale totals approximately $40,504,200.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Jaclyn Diaz is a reporter on Newshub.

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