Indianapolis woman accused of embezzling $270K from WFYI

The U.S. Attorney’s Office has charged a 52-year-old Indianapolis woman with conspiracy to commit wire fraud after authorities say she embezzled $270,000 from WFYI Public Media where she worked as an accounting specialist.

Mindi B. Madison, 52, is scheduled to make an initial appearance in U.S. District Court on Sept. 15.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office said Madison—who had access to WFYI’s accounting software and handled claims and invoices—worked with an unnamed co-conspirator, who was not an employee of the public television and radio station.

Madison began working at WFYI in January 2018. In a statement WFYI said it became aware of unauthorized financial transactions in 2020.

“Steps were immediately taken to prevent any further transactions, and the matter was reported to the appropriate authorities, leading to the court filing” on Thursday, the WFYI statement said. “Since the organization maintains business insurance coverage, there was no financial impact to WFYI.”

The organization declined to answer additional questions, citing the ongoing investigation.

IBJ could not immediately reach Madison. Court filings listed her attorney as Kenneth Riggins, who did not immediately respond to a phone message. According to an email response, he is out of the office through Sept. 14.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office said Madison “abused her position of trust and presented at least 156 fake claims and invoices for payment” in 2018, 2019 and 2020. Madison did not have signing authority on checks, court records said. Instead, she would prepare checks for signature and present those who did have the authority. She was then charged with distributing the checks.

The U.S. attorney’s statement said Madison falsified invoices using versions of her co-conspirator’s name and business. The co-conspirator would deposit the checks into his or her own account and then withdraw a portion of the money to give to Madison.

“They split the illegal proceeds,” the U.S Attorney’s Office said. “Both Madison and Individual 1 used WFYI’s stolen funds for their own personal expenditures including but not limited to, rent, restaurants, groceries, fuel, and utilities. In total, Madison embezzled approximately $270,876 from WFYI before her theft was discovered.”

If convicted, Madison faces up to 20 years in federal prison.•

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16 thoughts on “Indianapolis woman accused of embezzling $270K from WFYI

    1. The exact byproduct of hiring with low merit and/or ethical standards. Public media has long been a cesspool of wokeness even before the word achieve common currency.

      It’s no small consolation that, even those these institutions are ideologically captured, they usually end up destroying themselves because the deploy other orthodoxies as the means for employment, rather than competence and integrity.

      As far as public media is concerned, this isn’t a one-off. What a shame: they do sponsor and distribute some great programs. Some cringeworthy ones too, but there are more than a few diamonds in the rough.

    2. Lauren – where does this article say anything about WFYI’s hiring practices, or “wokeness”?

    3. It doesn’t Colin. It’s simply part of everyday nomenclature for hateful and spiteful people. Hole in the road? THE LIBS!! Fly got through the screen? WHICH WOKE PERSON OPENED THE WINDOW?!! It’s easier for people like Lauren and Brad to operate in bad faith posting comments online without having “normal” folks to tell them how outlandish their mindset is in person.

    4. Nate and Colin – obviously triggered, exactly as expected. But the question is…why?

      It took me exactly fifteen seconds to find evidence of the Woke Holy Writ on their website.

      https(colon)//www(dot)wfyi(dot)org/DEI

      As someone who used to donate to FYI regularly but have watched its decline into ideology, I’m not taking a stab in the dark. It’s obvious. Do you really think Public Radio is something other than woke? Does wokeness bring about positive change? Is it truly better to focus on something other than merit and integrity when making hiring decisions?

      Am I insulting your religion?

    5. Lauren – no you’re not insulting anyone. I’m just confused how a very quick, straightforward article about an employee working with a co-conspirator and stealing money from their employer makes you jump into a rant about perceived wokeness, hiring integrity of DEI, and evils of public radio. If this was a reading comprehension question on the SAT asking you to summarize the main point of this article, I don’t think you would pass lol! Anyway, have a nice day!

  1. When I worked as an Account Executive (I sold underwriting, which, let me be clear, was really “advertising”) at WFYI from 1997 to 2002, the organization had an “all hail to the King Bureaucrat” kind of culture, with no inceptive for people who worked hard or had their own creative thoughts or vision. Yes, WFYI replayed some high quality NPR and PBS shows, but the corporate culture of the organization itself consisted of bloated, overpaid bureaucrats. Many bizarre and unethical things were going on at WFYI, and I even attempted to speak to management and board members about the corruption, but to no avail, and I was abruptly shown the door. One board member even hung up the phone on me rather than listen to me tell the truth! I now am an independent radio producer and I produce Hoosier History Live, which some say is one of the most innovative talk shows in America. I do run Hoosier History Live as my own small business, however, so I can run it within my own value system and keep the bad guys’ hands off! At heart though, I’m just a smart, kind hearted Midwestern girl who grew up in the 50s and was taught the difference between right and wrong. All that seems to have gone away these days.

    1. Thanks for sharing Molly! Sounds like exactly the inception for the sort of crooked organization we see today.

      I know that these sort of embezzlement schemes can take place absolutely anywhere, in the most airtight and carefully monitored institutions. But if a company conspicuously puts a low emphasis on integrity, especially for hires who are handling money, this is a far more likely outcome. And the good people suffer as a result.

  2. I’m a CPA, public accounting auditor, evaluate internal control procedures to determine weaknesses, and do forensic accounting for fraud. Nothing about this story is unique to not-for-profits. This happens to at all kinds of companies. It’s frequently because the organization is too small to have enough people to create a robust internal control structure and systems to catch this stuff sooner rather than later. The other main reason is that people have earned an undue sense of trust by those that are in charge. It has zero to do with wokeness.

  3. I agree that wokeness is not necessarily a factor with the WFYI fiasco. But poor management is poor management, and such was the case with WFYI. When things went wrong there, a cover up was inevitable. And too often people sit on the boards of not-for-profits for the prestige factor, and are unwilling to look at the organization’s business practices.

    1. Molly, kindly explain how you think there was a cover-up? Also, the board members have no insight into the inner workings of an accounting department, nor are they ever expected to. They expect the CFO will implement adequate internal controls to detect this sort of malfeasance. And there are external independent auditors who may or may not catch this – read any audit report – thy are not presumed to uncover any or all acts of malfeasance.

    2. Absolutely not a cover-up! The CFO who hired and oversaw this person while she strolled off with 270k is still in place and making six figures plain as day.

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