Late University of Massachusetts Medical School employee Leo Villani was discovered to have stolen $3.4 million from the Worcester school before dying in a car accident this past December.
Villani served as a financial analyst, banking $46,000 a year, according to the Boston Globe. Yet, despite his comparably meager salary, he drove a Porsche, collected Salvador Dali paintings and built a large home in Uxbridge, Mass. When asked how he could afford such an affluent lifestyle, Villani allegedly claimed to have inherited money.
Following an internal investigation, however, officials found that Villani had been siphoning funds from payments intended for the state Medicaid insurance program. The Boston Globe suspects this scandal may be “the biggest theft by a state employee in more than a decade.”
Officials uncovered the scam after catching discrepancies in the account where Villani was tasked with depositing checks for MassHealth. What Villani had done was create a fake corporation to which he had been diverting state funds for five years. He is estimated to have stolen between 75 and 95 checks under the dummy account “Massachusetts Estate Recovery Systems,” as opposed to the actual “Massachusetts Estate Recovery Unit.”
School leaders are alarmed the alleged theft went years without being detected. One Commonwealth Medicine supervisor has since been dismissed and several other workers have been disciplined, according to the Boston Globe, who reports an outside auditor has been called in.
Vice Chancellor for Communications at UMass Medical School Edward Keohane told the Boston Globe “a very comprehensive and very robust audit” began within 24 hours of officials noticing something was awry. The office of Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley is now investigating the case, although it’s unlikely any criminal charges will be brought due to Villani’s death.
“We’ve learned from that,” Keohane told the Boston Globe of the situation, “and we have taken immediate and aggressive action to insure that any such abuse could not happen in the future.”