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Ex-Yale Medical School employee admits stealing $40 million in electronics

The campus of Yale University in New Haven, Conn. A former employee pleaded guilty this week to fraud and tax offenses related to the theft of $40 million from the Yale University School of Medicine. (Beth Harpaz/AP)
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A former Yale University employee pleaded guilty this week to fraud and tax offenses and admitted to stealing $40 million in computer equipment and other electronics from the school and selling it.

Jamie Petrone, who had been an administrative employee of the Yale School of Medicine’s Department of Emergency Medicine, was arrested in September, according to university officials.

Petrone, 42, of Georgia, pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud and one count of filing a false tax return. She will pay restitution to Yale and the IRS, and is scheduled to be sentenced in June.

Her attorney, Frank J. Riccio II, said in an email that “Ms. Petrone has accepted responsibility for her actions and is remorseful. She now looks forward towards sentencing and repairing some of the damage that has been caused.”

Federal authorities said Petrone began working for Yale in 2008 and most recently served as director of finance and administration for the Department of Emergency Medicine. In that role she had authority to make and authorize purchases up to $10,000 for the department, authorities said.

Officials said Petrone bought or ordered others to buy millions of dollars of electronics and computer equipment such as Apple iPads and MacBooks and cameras using Yale Med funds, splitting up the purchases to fall below the $10,000 threshold. The goods were later shipped to an out-of-state business, which resold the equipment and wired money to Maziv Entertainment LLC, a company of which Petrone is a principal, according to federal officials. She then used the proceeds for personal expenses such as travel, luxury cars and real estate.

As part of the plea, Petrone has agreed to forfeit more than $500,000 that was seized from Maziv Entertainment and liquidate three properties she owns or co-owns in Connecticut toward restitution, authorities said. Another property in Georgia is also subject to seizure and liquidation, according to federal officials. She also agreed to forfeit six vehicles, including Cadillacs, Mercedes-Benz and a Land Rover/Range Rover.

Petrone did not pay taxes on the income, according to federal officials, filing false claims for the 2013-2016 tax years, and no federal returns from 2017 to 2020 — costing the U.S. Treasury more than $6 million.

Petrone and an attorney representing her did not immediately respond to requests for comment Thursday.

Yale initially alerted authorities to suspected criminal behavior last year, said Karen N. Peart, a spokeswoman for the university. “The university thanks local law enforcement, the FBI, and the U.S. attorney’s office for their handling of the case,” she wrote in an email. “Since the incident, Yale has worked to identify and correct gaps in its internal financial controls.”

The U.S. Attorney for the District of Connecticut, FBI, IRS and Yale Police Department investigated the case.

Magda Jean-Louis contributed to this report.