Three Southwest Suburban Defendants Indicted In Alleged Scheme To Defraud Organ And Tissue Donor Network
CHICAGO ― Three southwest suburban defendants were indicted on federal fraud charges for allegedly scheming to swindle hundreds of thousands of dollars from a not-for-profit network that coordinated organ and tissue donations in Illinois and northwest Indiana, federal law enforcement officials announced today.
The indictment seeks forfeiture of $652,298 in alleged proceeds of the fraud scheme.
One defendant, SHARI L. HANSEN, 41, of Bolingbrook, was the auditing coordinator for the organization and was responsible for reviewing and approving invoices from physicians who contracted to engage in organ and tissue procurement. Co-defendants, ERIC V. MURFF, 37, of Plainfield, and DEBRA A. SCHULTZ, 43, of Lockport, allegedly received the proceeds of false invoices and shared the funds with Hansen.
All three defendants will be arraigned on a date yet to be determined in U.S. District Court. Hansen was charged with six counts of wire fraud, and Murff and Schultz were each charged with three counts of wire fraud, in a six-count indictment that was returned yesterday by a federal grand jury.
According to the indictment, between March 2008 and April 2010, the defendants allegedly schemed to submit false invoices to the donor network, identified as Organization A, seeking payment to physicians for organ and tissue procurement work that they knew was not performed. Each false invoice claimed that either Murff or Individual A, both of whom were not physicians, purportedly performed the organ or tissue procurement specified. Hansen allegedly authorized the fraudulent payments to be made.
Murff and Schultz deposited checks from Organization A, which were payable to Murff and Individual A, into accounts they controlled and then transferred a portion of the funds to Hansen, the charges allege.
The indictment was announced by Zachary T. Fardon, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, and Tony Gómez, Inspector-in-Charge of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service in Chicago. The government is being represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul Tzur.
Wire fraud carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine or an alternate fine of twice the loss or twice the gain, whichever is greater. If convicted, the Court must impose a reasonable sentence under federal statutes and the advisory United States Sentencing Guidelines.
The public is reminded that an indictment contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent and are entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.