Dara Little, 35, of Mitchell, Indiana, was sentenced to 27 months in federal prison after pleading guilty to three counts of wire fraud.
According to court documents, in May of 2014, Dara Little was hired as the Executive Director of Nursing at a senior living facility in Bedford, Indiana. As part of her role, Little had access to a web-based platform used to submit business expense reimbursement requests. In January 2016, Little was fired for timesheet fraud and theft of prescription medicine, however, her access to the reimbursement request platform was not immediately disabled.
In January 2016, after she was fired, Little submitted 24 expense reimbursement requests totaling more than $58,770. The reimbursement requests contained forged and falsified receipts that had no connection to Little’s employment at the senior living facility. For example, Little submitted a receipt for $3,923.00 worth of “small furniture purchases” purportedly made at an Ashley Furniture location in Cincinnati that does not actually exist. Little continued to make reimbursement requests for expenses such as dishwasher maintenance, locksmith services, iPads, and baby strollers for five months after her termination. Little’s expense reimbursement request account was deactivated in September 2016.
The day after Little’s access to the expense reimbursement request was terminated, Little began using another employee’s account to submit more fraudulent reimbursement requests. As she did with her own account, Little submitted requests that contained forged and falsified receipts.
Between September 2016 and March 2021, Little submitted 172 fraudulent reimbursement requests using the other employee’s account and, as a result, received more than $173,900 in payments from her former employer to which she was not entitled.
The fraudulent requests she submitted included receipts from a Nando’s Chicken in England, a California Shoe Store, and a cheerleading uniform.
The receipt picture that Little used from Nando’s Chicken went viral in 2013 after it was posted online and was identified as belonging to the singer, Beyonce.
In October 2017, Little also began to use yet another employee’s account to submit fraudulent reimbursement requests to her former employer that contained forged and falsified receipts.
Between October 2017 and March 2021, Little submitted 155 additional fraudulent reimbursement requests with the second employee’s account and, as a result, received more than $161,000 in payments to which she was not entitled.
The fraudulent requests she submitted included the same receipt from Nando’s Chicken over 58 times, the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles, Men’s Wearhouse, and a Kid’s First Chemistry Set.
Investigators searched Little’s cell phone and found a note in which she admitted to stealing over $400,000 from her former employer over the course of five years, how the money was stolen, and what personal expenses the stolen funds paid for.
Little stole a total of more than $419,542 from her former employer.
“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. “Our office will continue to prioritize prosecutions of fraud schemes that have lasting impacts on businesses and individuals. I commend the work of the FBI and prosecutors in our office to untangle this long string of embezzlement, proving once again that those who chose to violate the law in service of their greed will be held accountable for their crimes.”
“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. “The FBI and our law enforcement partners will continue to work diligently to identify and investigate those who choose to enrich themselves at the expense of others.”
The FBI investigated this case. The sentence was imposed by U.S. District Court Judge Sarah Evans Barker. Judge Barker also ordered that Little be supervised by the U.S. Probation Office for 3 years following her release from federal prison. Little has also been ordered to pay the full amount of $419,542.45 in restitution.
U.S. Attorney Myers thanked Assistant United States Attorney Kate Olivier, who prosecuted this case.