Former WFYI accountant charged with embezzling more than $270,000

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WFYI's headquarters in Indianapolis.

A former accounting specialist for WFYI Public Media in Indianapolis has been charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison if convicted.

Mindi B. Madison, who started working for WFYI in January 2018, allegedly embezzled more than $270,000 from the station with help from an unnamed co-conspirator who was neither a WFYI employee nor vendor, according to a Thursday news release from the U.S. Department of Justice’s office in the Southern District of Indiana.

“As an accounting specialist, Madison had access to WFYI’s accounting software, and was trusted to present legitimate expenses, claims, invoices, and supporting documentation along with the unsigned WFYI checks to employees at WFYI who had signature authority for their approval and signature,” the release said. “Instead of presenting legitimate claims that arose out of WFYI’s legitimate business expenses for signature and payment, Madison abused her position of trust, and presented at least 156 fake claims and invoices for payment.”

As part of the alleged scheme to conceal the theft from WFYI and its banking partners, Madison and the co-conspirator “agreed that Madison would falsify invoices using versions of [the co-conspirator’s] name and businesses connected to her.” Madison tendered WFYI checks to the co-conspirator, who deposited the checks into their bank accounts and eventually split the money with Madison. Madison and the co-conspirator allegedly stole approximately $270,876 to spend on rent, restaurants, groceries, fuel, utilities and other items before the theft was discovered.

WFYI officials became aware of the unauthorized financial transactions in 2020, according to Kirsten Eamon-Shine, a station spokesperson. “Steps were immediately taken to prevent any further transactions, and the matter was reported to the appropriate authorities,” leading to the court filing, Eamon-Shine said. 

“Since the organization maintains business insurance coverage, there was no financial impact to WFYI,” she said. “As this is an ongoing investigation, WFYI has no further comment at this time.”

Madison will make her initial federal court appearance Sept. 15 in Indianapolis, according to the news release.

This article was updated to include a statement from WFYI.

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