CHICAGO — A former payroll manager for the Art Institute of Chicago has been indicted on federal fraud charges for allegedly misappropriating more than $2 million in museum funds.

Michael Maurello, 56, of Beach Park, is charged with multiple counts of wire fraud and bank fraud after allegedly depositing museum funds into his bank account from 2007-2020.

The indictment reads that Maurello designated the payments in the payroll system as having been made to other employees or former employees.

When asked about such payments in January 20202, Maurello lied and later edited and altered a report from the museum’s payroll system to hide information about the stolen funds.

Each count of bank fraud is punishable by up to 30 years in federal prison, while each count of wire fraud carries a maximum of 20 years.

Maurello’s arraignment has not yet been scheduled.

The Art Institute of Chicago issued a statement on Friday:

In 2019, the Art Institute of Chicago began a review of our financial control procedures, which led to the discovery of unusual account activity. We immediately launched an internal investigation and discovered a now former employee fraudulently authorized a number of payments from Art Institute accounts to his personal bank accounts, disguising them as payments to former employees. This individual’s employment was terminated for cause and the matter was immediately referred to law enforcement. After an investigation, the Department of Justice has filed criminal charges against the former employee. 

This individual stole in excess of $2 million from the organization over the course of approximately a decade. The cumulative loss was significant, but because of the length of time and manner in which it was taken, it did not impact decisions around staffing, payroll, scholarship funding, programming, or other financial aspects of the organization. We have implemented additional controls and procedures to help detect and prevent any future malfeasance and are recovering funds through insurance. 

Spokesperson for the Art Institute of Chicago