The former office manager of a southwest suburban construction company has been charged with fraud for allegedly embezzling more than $2.3 million in company funds over at least 10 years.
Mildred H. Crawley, 72, fraudulently opened a corporate credit card and used it to charge the Lemont-based company for personal expenses, according to a criminal information filed Dec. 29, 2020, in U.S. District in Chicago.
Crowley’s personal expenses included payments related to a private horse farm and horse show, as well as restaurant meals, department store purchases, and travel throughout the United States, the information states. Crowley concealed the thefts by falsifying the company’s books and records to misrepresent her unauthorized use of the corporate card, the information states. The alleged fraud scheme spanned from 2009 to 2020.
The Chicago Tribune reports that the charges against Crowley stem from her job as an office manager for a blasting contractor in southwest suburban Lemont, identified only as Company A.
Beginning in July 2009, Crowley directed a bank where Company A had a business account to issue her a corporate credit card in her name even though the owner of the company had not authorized her to have a spending account, the charges allege.
Over the next 10 years, Crowley made more than $2.3 million in unauthorized charges on the account using the card and company checks, and then falsified the company’s books and records to make it look like the money was being used to pay legitimate vendors, according to the charges.
She also hid the fraud by failing to keep credit card statements detailing her purchases in the company’s files, the charges alleged.
In 2019, after the company reported a net loss of $77,000, Crowley falsely told the owner — identified as Individual A — that the red ink was caused by “higher wages to union workers and purchases of certain equipment,” the charges allege. In fact, Crowley had stolen more than $300,000 from the company during that fiscal year, the information stated.
The charges seek a forfeiture from Crowley in the amount of $2.39 million.