U.S. Attorney's Office
Northern District of Georgia
(404) 581-6000
July 23, 2015

Former Emory University Employee Sentenced for Embezzling Funds from Emory

ATLANTA—Brenda Michael, a former Emory University administrative assistant, has been sentenced to one year, six months in federal prison for stealing more than $300,000 in student tuition payments from the university.

“Michael used her position at Emory to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars in just over a year and a half,” said Acting U.S. Attorney John Horn. “Students trusted that this university employee was there to facilitate their enrollment. Had the defendant not been exposed by Emory, her deception could have caused even greater damage.”

“Those Emory University students had every right to trust in Ms. Michael, who was assigned by the University to assist those students. Unfortunately, Ms. Michael chose to betray that trust and use her position for personal gain. The FBI is pleased with its role in ensuring that Ms. Michael be held fully accountable for her criminal conduct, which today’s sentencing certainly does,” said J. Britt Johnson, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Atlanta Field Office.

“Emory University is satisfied with the outcome of this case and with the excellent work of the United States Attorney’s Office in prosecuting Ms. Michael for her crime. We take the security of our students’ financial information and thefts by employees very seriously and are pleased that we could work cooperatively with the United States Attorney’s Office in bringing the investigation to a successful conclusion,” said Nancy Seideman, Associate Vice President, Media Relations, Emory University.

According to Acting U.S. Attorney Horn, the charges and other information presented in court: Brenda Michael was employed as an administrative assistant with the Wound Ostomy Center, part of the School of Nursing at Emory University. As part of her job, the defendant assisted Emory students with enrolling in various programs and classes.

Beginning in August 2012, while assisting students with their enrollment in Emory programs, Michael began directing the students to pay their tuition and fees via PayPal to an account that the students believed was an authorized Emory University account. In fact, it was Michael’s personal PayPal account. The defendant misdirected student payments for more than a year, diverting a total of more than $317,000 in payments due to Emory and spending them for her personal benefit.

Brenda Michael, 53, of Atlanta, Georgia, has been sentenced by U.S. District Judge Willis B. Hunt to one year, six months in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release, and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $317,923.33 to Emory University. Michael was convicted on these charges on April 30, 2015, after she pleaded guilty.

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, with the assistance of Emory University.

Assistant United States Attorney Jamie L. Mickelson prosecuted the case.

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