A former employee of Carmel-based Zeta Tau Alpha has been sentenced to 27 months in federal prison for stealing more than $450,000 from the organization’s charitable foundation during a six-year span.
Christina Short, 43, of Speedway, worked for ZTA, a national women’s college fraternity, for more than 16 years as financial coordinator for the ZTA Foundation, a nonprofit that raises funds for scholarships and breast cancer awareness. Her duties included depositing donations and accounting for them in the ledgers.
Federal prosecutors said Short stole 816 donations on nearly 500 occasions and used them to pay for personal expenses including restaurant bills, clothing, vacations and youth sports.
Prosecutors said Short typically stole donations made by money order and avoided personal checks because they could be more easily tracked by donors.
ZTA officials learned of the theft after a bank examiner contacted them about a suspicious-looking deposit. They confronted Short and fired her after she admitted to stealing that check. ZTA notified the FBI, which worked with the Carmel Police Dept. to uncover the extent of the scheme.
U.S. District Judge Tanya Walton Pratt ordered Short to repay the funds she stole. Short made an initial payment of $30,000 after the sentencing. The court also ordered Short to serve three years of supervised release after her prison sentence.
ZTA has approximately 200,000 living alumni members and thousands of student members from approximately 170 colleges nationwide.