Former UW Student Admits to Stealing Thousands From Fraternity
A former fraternity treasurer and University of Wyoming student admitted Wednesday to stealing thousands of dollars from the fraternity through unauthorized use of a checking account and debit card.
Joseph Daniel Thomas Madrid, 20, pleaded guilty to one count of felony theft as part of a plea deal in Albany County District Court. If given the maximum sentence, he could spend 10 years in prison and pay a $10,000 fine.
In exchange for the guilty plea and $9,004.75 in restitution from Madrid, prosecutors agreed to recommend probation at sentencing and not file charges related to Madrid's use of the fraternity's debit card.
Madrid was arrested in mid-April after the fraternity president contacted the Laramie Police Department and told an officer he discovered Madrid was writing checks on the fraternity's account without authorization.
According to court documents, the fraternity president told the officer Madrid dropped out of school in December 2015 and left the fraternity at that time.
"I was kicked out for my grades," Madrid said in court Wednesday.
Madrid received a total of $3,350 from the checks from Feb. 23 through March 22.
"The president of the fraternity had gone to Mr. Madrid's residence and confronted him about the checks," Prosecutor Kurt Britzius said in court Wednesday. "He would write the checks out to himself and sign them." Court documents show Madrid also endorsed the checks.
Judge Jeffrey Donnell questioned why the bank allowed the transactions, noting that Madrid was never on the bank's signature card.
"In fact, he had never had the authority to write checks on the account of the fraternity in any means," said Britzius.
'Signature card didn't mean much to them, apparently," said Donnell.
The police affidavit says Madrid admitted to writing the checks knowing that he did not have permission and used the money for personal living expenses.
Madrid remains free on bond. Donnell emphasized that he expects Madrid to make significant restitution payments before the sentencing hearing, which will be scheduled pending completion of the presentence investigation.
Madrid lives in Rawlins and said he has not had a job since he left UW. Donnell instructed Madrid to complete several job applications each day and provide weekly updates on his job search to his public defender, Randy Hiller.
"Get yourself to work," said Donnell. "You've got a lot of money to pay back. You'd better get started."