A former payroll manager at the Art Institute of Chicago (AIC), who pleaded guilty in April to embezzling funds from the museum, has been sentenced to three years in prison. He is also expected to pay back the roughly $2.3m he stole from the AIC.
According to Alysa Guffey of the Chicago Tribune, a remorseful Michael Maurello appeared “visibly distressed” at his sentencing hearing on Thursday (16 November). “I truly apologise for what I did,” he said. “The Art Institute was good to me, and I took advantage of that.”
Between 2007 and 2020, Maurello falsified payments to employees, funnelling payroll funds into his personal bank accounts and going so far as to keep spreadsheets of his transactions in order to later make reversals in the payroll system to conceal his transfers. He spent many of the embezzled funds on fancy jewellery and lavish vacations to Hawaii and Las Vegas.
During the sentencing, US District Judge Manish Shah noted the tact with which Maurello stole from the museum, which broke a “basic trust that keeps society from falling into anarchy”. Nevertheless, Shah’s sentence fell below the recommended minimum of four years in prison and the maximum 20 that was cited in court this past spring. This was largely due to Maurello’s health—he had broken his neck as a teenager and, since this investigation began, his leg had to be amputated due to gangrene. (In court, Maurello’s brother pushed him in a wheelchair.)
Maurello’s lawyer said his client had “disintegrated into the shell of a former man”. He has been residing in an assisted living facility after being abandoned by his husband of 20 years and much of the rest of his family in the wake of his misdeeds being made public earlier this year.
Maurello will spend his prison term at a medical centre due to his health issues, followed by three years of supervised release.