Mildred did it! Office manager steals $2.3 million to fund horse farm, shopping sprees

Well someone is starting their 2021 off with a bang. It has been reported that Mildred H. Crowley, the office manager for a Chicago-based construction company, has been charged for embezzling over $2.3 million from her employer over the last 10 years. And wait until you hear what she spent it on!

According to a criminal report filed at the end of December, 72-year-old Crowley used the millions to fund a private horse farm as well as fancy restaurant meals, trips and lavish shopping sprees.

She is being charged specifically for wire fraud because she put these personal expenses on a corporate credit card.

The New York Post found that the horse farm Crowley was funding was called Bit O’Luck and was located in southwest Bourbonnais.

And this was no ordinary, run of the mill horse farm. The farm had hackney ponies (they used to be bred to pull carriages and now are mainly show ponies) and saddlebreds as well as heated barns to keep the horsies warm, and indoor and outdoor arenas.

According to a horse-ownership survey from the University of Maine the average annual cost of horse ownership is $3,876 per horse, while the median cost is $2,419. Crowley purchased the land and farm  in 2015 for $475,000, according to records cited by The Chicago Tribune. Crowley reportedly owned 11 horses. Those are some costly ponies!

So how did she cover it up from 2009 to 2020? According to prosecutors, she falsified expenses on the company’s books and records.

She could face over 20 years in prison. Her arraignment has not been scheduled yet.

Crowley’s attorney told The Chicago Tribune she is a “wonderful family woman” and is eager for her story and the truth to come to light.

The information was announced by John R. Lausch, Jr., US Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; and Emmerson Buie, Jr., Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Field Office of the FBI.  The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney John D. Mitchell.

According to the 2017 Hiscox Embezzlement Study US businesses that have incurred employee theft lost an average of $1.13 million. It found that small and mid-sized companies are the most plagued by embezzlement with 68% of cases.

Fund theft is the top way for employees to commit embezzlement and interestingly, fund theft is most commonly committed by women at 56%.