Wilton fugitive charged in $150,000 fraud

Michelle Foley
Michelle Foley

A 45-year-old woman, who lived for a time in Wilton and was a finance director for a Manhattan-based nonprofit organization that provides arts and mentoring programs to underserved youth, has been charged with bank, wire and access device fraud.

Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced April 24 that Michelle Foley was to be presented in Manhattan federal court that day before the U.S. Magistrate Judge Stewart D. Aaron.

Foley had a run-in with Wilton police in March. Police learned she was living at 37 Cannon Road and had a felony warrant out of Pinellas County, Fla., for larceny in another matter. Before she was apprehended, Foley was able to move away from the area and out of state.

Police checked with the Wilton post office and learned her mail was still there. When Foley returned on March 23 and attempted to pick up her mail, officials at the post office notified police who then arrived and approached her. Foley was arrested at the post office without incident.

She was held on fugitive from justice charges on $250,000 bond and was arraigned March 26 in Norwalk Superior Court, and was held awaiting extradition. Foley has a criminal history in four states, police said.

The Wilton Police Department assisted the U.S Department of Justice in serving a search warrant at her Cannon Road address on March 28, according to Lt. Robert Kluk, spokesman for Wilton police.

“We only assisted them in securing the residence while they searched for evidence,” he said.

Berman said Foley allegedly used her position at the nonprofit to steal funds intended for disadvantaged youth. Rather than directing the organization’s funds to those in need, Foley allegedly used more than $150,000 for her own selfish gain, including a trip to Disney World and a puppy.

“Today Michelle Foley is charged with serious federal crimes for her alleged conduct,” he said in a statement.

According to the allegations in the complaint, from at least in or about July 2017 up to and including in or about February 2018, Foley abused her position as the organization’s director of finance and operations by stealing more than $150,000 from the organization. Foley issued unauthorized checks on behalf of the organization to herself, totaling more than $56,000, and obtained two corporate credit cards, which were linked to the organization’s bank account and which she used to make personal, unauthorized purchases.

During the course of her employment, Foley charged more than $100,000 to these credit cards, including by making payments for a puppy, home furnishings and appliances, and expenses associated with a trip to Disney World.                

Foley was charged with one count of bank fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison, one count of wire fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, and one count of access device fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. The maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress. Any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.