Two co-conspirators who schemed to embezzle funds from public television station WFYI in Indianapolis were sentenced Tuesday, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of Indiana.
Mindi B. Madison, a former accountant for the station, pled guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud in April 2023 and was sentenced to three years of probation. She is ordered to pay $270,876 in restitution, the amount that was embezzled.
Alicia Wilson, who was not a WFYI employee, pled guilty to the same crime and was sentenced to three years of probation, with the first 15 months on home detention. She will also need to pay $270,876 in restitution.
WFYI officials became aware of the unauthorized financial transactions in 2020. When charges were announced in 2022, a WFYI spokesperson said the station’s business insurance shielded it from any financial impact.
Madison started working as an accounting specialist for WFYI in January 2018. She faced a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison if convicted.
Madison had access to WFYI’s accounting software and was expected to oversee legitimate expenses, claims, invoices and supporting documentation along with unsigned checks.
“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,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in the release. “In [an] effort to conceal the theft from WFYI and their banking institutions, Madison and Wilson agreed that Madison would falsify invoices using versions of Wilson’s name and businesses connected to her.”
Madison tendered WFYI checks to Wilson, and they agreed that Wilson would then deposit the checks into her bank accounts. Wilson then withdrew Madison’s portion in cash, and they split the illegal proceeds. Both Madison and Wilson used WFYI’s stolen funds for personal expenditures, including but not limited to rent, restaurants, groceries, fuel and utilities.
“Complex economic crimes such as these devastate the finances and security of businesses and individuals,” said Zachary A. Myers, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana, in the release. “The defendants’ theft deprived WFYI of hundreds of thousands of dollars intended for public service and educating the community.” The FBI investigated the case, according to the release. The sentences were imposed by U.S. District Court Judge Sarah Evans Barker. Myers thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Tiffany J. Preston, who prosecuted the case.