BEDFORD, Ind. — The former executive director of a Bedford senior living center was sentenced to federal prison for embezzling more than $400,000 from the company.
Court documents state Dara Little, 35, of Mitchell, Indiana, pleaded guilty to three counts of wire fraud and was sentenced to 27 months in federal prison.
“Ms. Little intentionally sought to personally benefit by diverting funds that were not her own to line her own pocket. This sentence should send a clear message to others who might consider doing the same,” said FBI Indianapolis Acting Special Agent in Charge Robert Middleton.
Little was hired at the senior living center in May 2014 and was fired less than two years later for lying about her timesheets and stealing prescription medicine.
According to United States Attorney’s Office Southern District of Indiana, Little’s access to a system used to submit business expense reimbursement requests was not revoked upon her firing.
“In January 2016, after she was fired, Little submitted 24 expense reimbursement requests totaling more than $58,770,” the office wrote in a release about her sentencing.
The requests were for “forged and falsified receipts” that were not related to Little’s employer. One receipt was reportedly for nearly $4,000 worth of furniture for a made-up Ashley Furniture location in Ohio.
Other reimbursement expenses included dishwasher maintenance, locksmith services, iPads, and baby strollers.
Little’s access to the reimbursement request system was finally deactivated in September of 2016. However, the attorney’s office said she then used two other employees’ accounts to make more fake reimbursement requests.
Between September 2016 and March 2021, she used the first employee’s account to make 172 requests totaling more than $173,900. Between October 2017 and March 2021, Little used the second employee’s account for another 155 fraudulent requests worth $161,000.
Some of the receipts Little submitted to the other workers’ accounts include a receipt from a Nando’s chicken in England and a receipt from a shoe store in California. The picture of the Nando’s receipt was later proven to be a picture that went viral in 2013 after it was found to be an order for the singer Beyonce and her entourage. Prosecutors said Little used that same Nando’s receipt at least 59 times.
In total, “Little stole a total of more than $419,542 from her former employee,” wrote prosecutors. She has been ordered to pay the full amount in restitution.
“For over five years, the defendant repeatedly defrauded her former employer through lies and forged documents,” said Zachary A. Myers, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana.
Investigators said they also found evidence on Little’s cell phone where she admitted to stealing the money and how she spent it over the course of five years.