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Former Field Museum Employee Charged With Stealing $900K

By Emma G. Gallegos in News on Dec 16, 2015 9:30PM

Field Museum (Photo by Joshua Mellin via the Chicagoist Featured Photos pool on Flickr)

Caryn Benson (LinkedIn)
A former Field Museum employee is being accused of stealing $900,000 in membership fees from the museum.

Caryn Benson, 38, of Romeoville was charged with theft in federal court Tuesday, according to the Tribune. Her arraignment is scheduled for Jan. 22. The embezzlement charge brought by the U.S. Attorney's office alleges Benson stole $33,014 from a "not-for-profit civic institution in Chicago" during 2014. They haven't commented on the charge.

This charge comes on the heels of the revelation that the Field Museum had an employee who pocketed $900,000 in cash. Through the scheme this employee would take cash from museum visitors paying for a membership, and then wouldn't log it in the Field Museum's system, according to Ray DeThorne, chief marketing officer for the museum. This happened for over seven years. News of this scheme, which was discovered through an internal audit, became public in the Field Museum's public tax filing released on Friday.

Benson wasn't named in this filing, though the museum says Benson admitted to stealing $903,284 before they fired her in April 2014. Insurance covered the museum's losses and they say they've since tightened their controls over cash transactions.

This isn't Benson's first brush with the law. WTTW found a Chicago police report, which shows she was accused of stealing from a South Side motor supply company when she worked as a cash register clerk. Her scheme then was to pocket cash for returned items that didn't show up. She was ordered to pay $210 in restitution, and the case was dismissed. This apparently didn't show up on a background check the museum ran on Benson when she was hired as a Field Museum temp.

Her LinkedIn profile describes her as a Data Service Manager, according to a screenshot from Crain's.