Woman Steals $2.3 Million From Employer to Fund Side Gig

This is America, where everyone has a job and everyone has a dream. The idea is to work the job until you can make the dream come true. That happened for one Illinois woman, but federal prosecutors say that the money she used to fund her dream was embezzled from her place of employment. She is now facing federal charges for the theft of $2.3 million. 

72-year-old Mildred Crowley is accused of embezzling money from her employer to fund her horse farm. She is not the first to be charged with such a crime. In fact, horse farming is rife with companies that have funded their coffers on the ill-gotten gains of fraud and theft. 

Criminal Enterprises: Horse Breeding and Horse Farms

When most people think of criminal enterprises, they think of drug trafficking, weapons trafficking, and illegal gambling operations. They do not often think of horse farming. Yet several horse farmers have faced serious fraud and theft allegations for the way they sought to fund their dreams.

In one case, the former treasurer of Dixon, Illinois was convicted and sentenced to 20 years after stealing over $54 million from the town’s treasury. The money funded real estate purchases, expensive restaurants, and the horse farm.

In 2018, Carol Delgado and Brent Houck were charged with fraudulently obtaining millions of dollars in construction contracts that they then used to fund their horse farm. They have pleaded not guilty and are still awaiting trial. 

Crowley’s Fraud

According to federal prosecutors, Crowley lied to a bank to get them to open up an expense account in her name despite the fact that management had never authorized such an account. Over the next 10 years, Crowley used the account to pay for $2.3 million in unauthorized charges and then falsified the books to make it appear like the money was going to legitimate vendors. 

In 2019, the company reported a net loss of $77,000. Crowley told her employers that the shortfall was likely related to union workers and expensive equipment. However, she had stolen over $300,000 in the company’s money that year singularly accounting for nearly 25% of their losses. 


Crowley is likely to plead guilty to the charges. There will not be a grand jury hearing which means that the prosecution is expecting a guilty plea. What they will give in exchange for her guilty plea is unknown. The government will request the forfeiture of at least $2.3 million in assets, so she will lose her horse farm for sure. She will also end up severely in debt due to legal expenses. Furthermore, she is likely facing a sentence of at least five years in federal prison for uttering forged documents, bank fraud, and grand theft. The sentence could, however, be much longer.

Talk to a Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney

If you are a horse farmer, chances are, you need a criminal defense attorney. Call David Freidberg today at (312) 560-7100 to discuss your situation and the best possible resolution. 

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