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Field Museum: Employee Pocketed $900K in Membership Fees

By David Matthews | December 11, 2015 1:10pm
 The Field Museum , 1400 S. Lake Shore Drive.
The Field Museum , 1400 S. Lake Shore Drive.
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Facebook/The Field Museum

DOWNTOWN — A midlevel employee of the Field Museum pocketed $900,000 in membership fees over seven years in a theft that is now under federal investigation, the Downtown museum has disclosed. 

The Field Museum, 1400 S. Lake Shore Drive, admitted the yearslong larceny in a nonprofit tax form it filed earlier this month. The theft ended in 2014, when the employee was fired. 

The relevant disclosure in the Field's 2014 990 tax form filed earlier this month. [Field Museum]

Federal authorities are investigating the crime, said Ray DeThorne, the Field Museum's chief marketing officer. He declined to disclose the former employee's name because she has not been charged.

DeThorne said the employee pocketed a percentage of membership fees Field Museum guests paid over seven years, in a theft that eventually added up to $900,000.

The museum has 41,920 members. An individual membership to the Field Museum — which recently opened new exhibits about ancient China and Greece — currently costs $85, according to the museum. The museum collected about $2.8 million in membership dues last year, according to the filing. 

The museum has been reimbursed through an insurance policy for the theft, and it has implemented new "safety and security" measures to ensure similar crimes don't happen again.

Federal authorities are investigating because the Field Museum receives federal subsidies, DeThorne said. Joseph Fitzpatrick, a spokesman for the Chicago-based Northern Illinois District of the U.S. Attorney's Office, and Joan Hyde, a Chicago-based spokeswoman for the FBI, declined to comment. 

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