CHICAGO, IL – A former payroll manager at the Art Institute of Chicago has been sentenced to three years in prison after pleading guilty to embezzling over $2 million in museum funds. Michael Maurello, 56, was also ordered to pay restitution to the museum and its insurers.
Maurello is expected to surrender to the Federal Bureau of Prisons before 2 p.m. on February 8, 2024, and will be housed in a prison medical facility. Following his release, he will be under three years of supervised release.
During his sentencing hearing, Maurello expressed remorse, apologizing for his actions and acknowledging that he took advantage of the Art Institute. He was indicted on two counts of wire fraud and two counts of bank fraud, ultimately pleading guilty to one count of wire fraud.
According to prosecutors, Maurello misappropriated museum funds from 2007 to 2020 and used the money to fund a lavish lifestyle, including trips to Hawaii and Las Vegas. The museum uncovered the scheme during a 2019 financial review, prompting an internal investigation.
Maurello’s legal troubles have left him in an assisted living facility, with his spouse leaving him and his family unwilling to care for him. Facing a potential 20-year prison sentence and a hefty fine, Maurello will now serve three years in prison and repay over $2 million to the museum.
This case serves as a reminder of the importance of financial oversight and accountability in cultural institutions, highlighting the impact of embezzlement on museums and the repercussions for those responsible.