Former St. Thomas employee pleads guilty to stealing from school

  • Article by: TIM HARLOW , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 8, 2008 - 11:07 PM

A former University of St. Thomas employee who used school funds to pay her personal credit card bill and bilked the school out of thousands of dollars pleaded guilty Monday to one count of wire fraud and one count of unauthorized access to a protected computer, the U.S. attorney's office said.

Gayle Janis Schmidt, 61, of New Brighton, entered the plea before United States District Judge James Rosenbaum in Minneapolis.

In her plea, Schmidt admitted that from 2000 to 2007 she intentionally embezzled more than $120,000 from the university where she worked in the accounting department of the university's management center. Schmidt processed payments from people enrolled in seminars conducted by the university. She had worked at the school since 1990.

Schmidt said she executed a scheme by university's Internet-based credit card processing system to transfer funds from school bank accounts to her personal credit cards. She admitted that she made 120 transfers over the seven year period in which $122,000 was paid to her credit cards. In one transaction on Feb. 14, 2006, Schmidt used the school's system to make a $1,895 credit card payment.

Schmidt was charged with the offenses on Nov. 17. She faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison on the wire fraud count and five years on the charge for unauthorized used of the computer.

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