A former financial coordinator for a Carmel-based fraternity’s charitable foundation is facing multiple 20-year sentences after she was arrested and charged for embezzling more than $450,000 from the organization.
On Oct. 10, U.S. Attorney Josh J. Minkler announced that Christina Short, 43, Speedway, was charged with wire fraud for her alleged altering and stealing of more than 800 money orders that were given as donations to Zeta Tau Alpha, a national women’s fraternity headquartered in Carmel.
Short began working for ZTA in 2002 before being fired in late 2018 after an employee at her bank began examining the altered money orders and alerted ZTA. She allegedly began stealing money in 2012.
According to the U.S. Dept. of Justice’s report, ZTA regularly received donations on a nearly daily basis. Those donations were used to help fund scholarships and promote breast cancer awareness, among other education initiatives.
“Charities serve a critical role in our society,” Minkler said in a statement. “Those who donate should feel secure in knowing their funds will go where intended. And those who choose to steal should likewise know that they will be caught, prosecuted and held accountable in court.”
According to the DOJ report, Short would change the “pay to” line on a money order to her name before depositing it into a personal bank account. Over time, she allegedly stole higher increments more frequently. By 2016, she was allegedly stealing more than 150 donations per year.
Charges further allege that Short made efforts to conceal the fraud, taking steps to ensure the donations were recorded and that those ZTA records matched what donors actually gave, prompting the donor to be sent a thank-you card and tax-deduction information. Short also allegedly changed the foundation’s bookkeeping, subtracting the amount she allegedly stole, to make the foundation’s bank accounts match.
According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Nick Linder, who is prosecuting the case, Short could face up to 20 years in prison on each charge and pay back the entirety of the stolen money if convicted.
Short was arrested and released Oct. 10 pending trial. She was appointed a public defender, William H. Dazey, Jr. of Indianapolis-based Indiana Federal Community Defenders. Dazey did not respond to request for comment.