Make-A-Wish Iowa CEO Admits Embezzling Funds for Sick Children

WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:

  • The former CEO of Make-A-Wish Iowa who was arrested early this year has admitted to embezzling $41,000 from the foundation that grants wishes to sick children.
  • Make-A-Wish Iowa found “financial irregularities” in the summer of last year, prompting the charity to dismiss its then-CEO Jennifer Woodley.
  • Woodley admitted to giving herself an unapproved bonus and salary increases, unauthorized charges on a foundation credit card, and providing false entries into the charity’s records for those expenses.

Make-A-Wish Iowa’s former CEO Jennifer Woodley has pleaded guilty to charges of embezzling tens of thousands of dollars from the foundation that supports children with cancer and other serious illnesses.

In a written guilty plea, Woodley admitted last week that she gave herself an unapproved bonus and salary increases, charged the foundation credit card for personal use without authorization, and made false entries into foundation records related to those items.

The 40-year-old mother of two pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree theft and one count of fraudulent practices, all felonies. Prosecutors will recommend a sentence of five years of probation under a plea agreement. There will also be fines and restitution.

Woodley embezzled a total of nearly $41,000, according to a charging document, but restitution has not yet been set.

On Tuesday, Judge Scott Beattie accepted the guilty pleas and set July 20 for a sentencing hearing.

Woodley’s lawyer, Nicholas Sarcone, said that he would request for a deferred judgment during sentencing. If the judge will grant it, it means the case would be erased from her record, as long as she completes her probation and the other parts of her sentence.

Make-A-Wish America Iowa is based in the Des Moines suburb of Urbandale. Make-A-Wish America has 60 chapters across the country. The foundation gives support and memorable experiences for children with cancer and other critical illnesses and their families.

Woodley, who became the chapter’s president and CEO in 2019, started embezzling funds shortly after she became chief. The theft continued until the charity discovered financial irregularities during an internal compliance review in the summer of 2020. The foundation dismissed Woodley and sought a criminal investigation.

Early this year, Woodley turned herself in to face the charges but has been free on bond. According to jail records, her new address is listed as Winston Salem, North Carolina.

Source: ABC News

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