Former Art Institute of Chicago employee pleads guilty to embezzling $2m from the museum

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Michael Maurello, a former Art Institute of Chicago (AIC) employee who was accused of embezzling $2m from the museum between 2007 and 2020, has pleaded guilty to the charges brought against him.

He will be sentenced on 14 September and faces up to 20 years in prison, the Chicago Tribune reported. He was also ordered to pay the AIC a restitution amounting to just over $2.3m, and may also face an additional $250,000 fine.

Maurello’s scheme was first uncovered in 2019, after a review of financial procedures at the museum unearthed “unusual account activity”. In 2020, an assistant controller at the museum asked Maurello, a payroll manager at the AIC, about an unusual transfer. Maurello falsely claimed it had been a system test, falsifying a payroll report to cover his tracks. The museum subsequently terminated Maurello for cause and turned the issue over to law enforcement.

The AIC has since “implemented additional controls and procedures to help detect and prevent any future malfeasance”; funds lost through Maurello’s embezzling scheme will be recovered through insurance.

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