ST. LOUIS • The former business director of Washington University’s Division of Medical Education was sentenced Friday to 30 months in prison for embezzling almost $400,000 in three separate schemes that lasted nearly a decade.
Barbara “Basia” Skudrzyk, 38, of Rock Hill, was also ordered to repay $381,583. Skudrzyk paid her moving company, a home cleaning service, divorce lawyers, painters and construction companies by creating, submitting and approving about $155,000 in false invoices to the university, Assistant U.S. Attorney Hal Goldsmith wrote in a court filing. Prosecutors asked for 33 to 41 months in prison.
When contractors questioned why they were being paid by Washington University, Skudrzyk claimed she had been paid a bonus or had withdrawn money from her retirement account, Goldsmith said in court.
She billed the university for travel for herself and relatives to Poland, Germany, Thailand, Canada, Florida, Arizona, New York City and Texas, prosecutors said. She also bought about $140,000 in VISA gift cards at the Washington University bookstore by forging other employees’ signatures and charging the purchases to 100 different university accounts, prosecutors said. The gift cards, which she used for personal purposes like jewelry, were purportedly going to medical residents.
“She was living out of the pocket of Washington University,” Goldsmith said in court Friday.
The gift card scheme was uncovered only due to a error by the bookstore. After the store double-billed one of Skudrzyk’s transactions, they called the listed employee to notify her that they would be issuing a credit.
Skudrzyk apologized in court, asked for mercy and said she was “determined and driven to rebuild myself ... It’s really hurting me that I did extreme wrong,” she said.
In a letter to U.S. District Judge Rodney Sippel, Division of Medical Education officials wrote that Skudrzyk’s scheme caused an “enormous disruption” to the work of the division, which educates medical students, residents and fellows, damaged its reputation and inflicted emotional trauma on former colleagues falsely implicated in Skudrzyk’s scheme.
Skudrzyk, also known as Barbara “Basia” Najarro, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in December to three counts of mail fraud.
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