Former official for Carmel-based fraternity foundation sentenced to 27 months

The former financial coordinator of a charitable foundation operated by Carmel-based women’s fraternity Zeta Tau Alpha has been sentenced to more than two years in federal prison after pleading guilty to embezzling about $450,000 from the organization.

Christina Short, 43, of Speedway, received a 27-month prison sentence from Judge Tanya Walton Pratt for perpetrating the six-year scheme, U.S. Attorney Josh J. Minkler announced Monday.

Walton also ordered Short to repay the entire amount she stole. After sentencing, Short made an initial payment of about $30,000, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

In addition, Short, who was indicted in October, was ordered to serve three years of supervised release after her prison sentence.

As a financial coordinator at ZTA from 2002 to 2018, Short was responsible for receiving, depositing, and accounting for individual donations.

“The evidence show that she stole over 800 separate cashier’s checks and money orders,” and deposited into her own bank accounts, her indictment says.

Short attempted to cover her tracks by altering the foundation’s donation logs and financial ledgers, the indictment says. After a financial institution discovered the embezzlement and notified the foundation in November, “Short admitted that she had taken ‘a few’ money orders over the past week,” leading to her firing and the investigation that produced the indictment.

The evidence in the indictment specifically notes eight instances in which Short was accused of making wire transfers of money orders to her personal bank accounts from October 2012 through May 2018. Each of those money orders was for $500 to $1,000.

Short had worked for the foundation since 2002, according to the indictment, mostly as a part-time dedicated staff member responsible for receiving, recording and depositing donations to the foundation.

The evidence shows that in some cases, Short wrote her own name over Zeta Tau Alpha in the “pay to” line of money orders. In other cases in which the donor had not filled in the “pay to” line, relying on ZTA staff to do so, she simply filled in her name or one of several aliases, then deposited them into her account, according to the indictment.

Zeta Tau Alpha has more than 20,000 student members in chapters at more than 150 colleges and universities. Its philanthropic arm uses donations to fund scholarships, leadership and educational opportunities for students and alumnae as well as to promote breast cancer awareness and education.

ZTA also has more than 200,000 current alumnae members associated with more than 200 chapters.

This case was jointly investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Carmel Police Department.

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