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 Monday in federal court in Hartford, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Connecticut announced in a news release.
She is alleged to have run a scheme for eight years starting in 2013, causing Yale to lose $40,504,200, prosecutors said.
Petrone started work for the medical school in the emergency medicine department in 2008, officials said. She most recently was the department's director of finance and administration.
Petrone had the authority to make and authorize purchases for the department with a cap of $10,000, the release said.
Since no later than 2013, she ordered or had other staff members order millions of dollars’ worth of electronic hardware, such as iPads and Microsoft Surface Pro tablets, from vendors using Yale Med funds, prosecutors said. Petrone then arranged to have the hardware shipped to an out-of-state business in New York, which resold the goods, they said.
The business then wired money into an account for a company called Maziv Entertainment LLC, in which she is a principal, prosecutors said.
Prosecutors accused Petrone of having falsely represented on Yale internal forms and electronic communications that the hardware was for specified medical school needs. She also broke up the purchases into orders below the $10,000 threshold to avoid requiring any oversight, according to the release.
Prosecutors said Petrone used money from the sales of the stolen goods for real estate, travel, expensive cars and other personal expenses. She has had to forfeit six luxury cars: two Mercedes-Benzes, 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, costing the U.S. Treasury over $6 million, prosecutors said.
According to the release, Petrone filed false federal tax returns from 2013 to 2016 claiming 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 the IRS, started in August based on information provided by Yale, an affidavit said.
Petrone estimated that 90 percent of her computer-related purchases were fraudulent, she told investigators in a voluntary statement, according to the affidavit.
She was arrested in September and released later on a $1 million bond pending sentencing, officials said.
Petrone has already lost some of the luxury goods she is alleged to have bought with 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, said Wednesday morning. “She now looks forward towards sentencing and repairing some of the damage that has been caused.”
The wire fraud charge carries a maximum prison term of 20 years, and the false tax return charge carries a maximum term of three years.
Her sentencing is scheduled for June 29.