An Evansville woman who embezzled more than $311,000 from a Madison day care center pleaded guilty to wire fraud in U.S. District Court in Madison on Friday, authorities reported.
Nichole Genz, 41, earlier this year was charged with conspiring to commit wire fraud and nine counts of wire fraud stemming from a scheme to defraud her employer, Learning Gardens Child Development Center, a subsidiary of Park Towne Development Corp. of Madison.
As the executive director at Learning Gardens from September 2013 to October 2018, Genz was responsible for all Learning Gardens functions, including hiring and firing of staff, compliance with state licensing regulations, and maintaining the petty cash account which encompassed issuing petty cash checks for expense reimbursements and coding the payments for entry into the general ledger, Timothy M. O’Shea, acting U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin, said in a statement Monday.
According to an indictment, Genz and the Park Towne Development accounting manager participated in a scheme to defraud PTD through various methods of embezzlement, which included: (1) diverting Learning Gardens tuition checks into the Learning Gardens petty cash account and cashing them; (2) cashing voided and altered PTD checks by diverting them to the Learning Gardens petty cash account and cashing them; (3) creating false bank statements for the Learning Gardens petty cash bank statement that hid the check diversions; and (4) misuse of the US Bank VISA company credit card for personal purchases.
In particular, Genz submitted monthly expense reports that falsely coded her personal expenses on the VISA credit card statement as Learning Gardens business expenses. Genz attached receipts to the expense reports with handwritten notations falsely indicating the purchases were Learning Gardens business expenses.
As part of her plea agreement, Genz admitted that she charged personal expenses on her company credit card and falsely claimed they were for meal service for children at Learning Gardens. She further admitted that many of these claimed business expenses were for a separate personally owned ice cream shop business.
Genz faces 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a $250,000 fine when she is sentenced on Feb. 10 before U.S. District Judge James D. Peterson.