Federal Jury Convicts Lockport Woman Of Scheming To Defraud a Not-For-Profit Organ Donation Network
CHICAGO — A Lockport woman was convicted on federal fraud charges today for scheming to swindle money from a not-for-profit network that coordinated organ and tissue donations in Illinois and northwest Indiana.
DEBRA A. SCHULTZ received the proceeds of false invoices which had been submitted to the organization by purported physicians for alleged organ and tissue procurement. The procurement work was not actually performed, and the invoices were fraudulent. A co-defendant, SHARI L. HANSEN, who worked as an auditing coordinator for the organization, approved the payments for the bogus invoices, causing the organization to issue checks to Schultz and another co-defendant, ERIC V. MURFF.
The scheme netted the defendants $ 652,298 in illegal profits. Schultz retained thousands of dollars of the stolen funds for her own benefit.
The jury convicted Schultz, 46, on all three counts of wire fraud. The convictions carry a maximum sentence of 60 years in prison. U.S. District Judge Robert M. Dow Jr. scheduled a sentencing hearing for May 19, 2017.
The verdict was announced by Zachary T. Fardon, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; and E.C. Woodson, Postal Inspector-in-Charge of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service in Chicago. Evidence at trial revealed that the scheme began no later than March 2008 and continued until at least April 2010. Hansen created or caused to be created fraudulent invoices that she submitted to the not-for-profit organization. The invoices requested payment to Schultz and Murff for organ and tissue procurement work that the defendants knew was not actually performed. Many of the false invoices specified that Murff as well as Schultz’s son, identified as Individual A, were doctors who performed organ and tissue procurement, when in reality neither Murff nor Individual A did any such work and was not a physician. Indeed, when the fraud began, Individual A was 17 years old and attending high school.
Hansen, in her role as auditing coordinator, approved the fake invoices, thereby authorizing and directing the organization to issue checks to Murff and Schultz’ son. Murff and Schultz pocketed some of the money and transferred other portions of the funds to one or more bank accounts held in Hansen’s name.