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Ex-Payroll Manager Of Art Institute Of Chicago Sentenced To Jail Time For Embezzling Millions

Michael Maurello, the Art Institute of Chicago’s former payroll manager who in April pled guilty to funneling millions from the institution’s coffers into his private bank account, has been sentenced to three years in prison.

According to the Chicago Tribune, the sentence included an order to repay the $2.3 million he embezzled from the museum between 2007 and 2020. US District Judge Manish Shah, who handed down the sentence, said Maurello’s actions violated the “basic trust that keeps society from falling into anarchy.”

However, the sentence was relatively lenient. In January, federal prosecutors in Illinois charged Maurello with two counts of wire fraud and two counts of bank fraud for his alleged crimes—each bank fraud charge carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison, while each wire fraud charge can result in up to 20 years in prison.

Maurello’s poor health—his leg had to be amputated due to gangrene while he was under investigation for his crimes and, as a teenager, he suffered a broken neck—was taken into consideration. He will spend his prison term in a medical facility followed by three years of supervised release.

For 13 years, Maurello skimmed money from employee paychecks to fund a luxurious lifestyle that included expensive jewelry and vacations to Las Vegas and Hawaii. During his sentencing on November 16 Maurello looked “visibly distressed,” according to the Chicago Tribune.

“I truly apologize for what I did,” he said, “the Art Institute was good to me, and I took advantage of that.”

His lawyer said Maurello had turned into a “shell of a former man” since his crimes became public.

Despite the vast sums of money Maurello stole, a spokesperson for the museum said that “because of the length of time and manner in which it was taken, [the theft] did not impact decisions around staffing, payroll, scholarship funding, programming or other financial aspects of the organization” while adding that “the cumulative loss was significant.”

The museum will recover the funds through insurance.

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