investigate murder suspect in AARP fraud case
The Lansing woman charged with killing her boyfriend and burying him
in her yard is also being investigated for embezzling from the Michigan
chapter of the AARP.
U.S. postal authorities confirmed that Linda Young Marquardt, the woman
charged with murder in the death of her boyfriend, James Lee Wilkerson,
is under investigation for allegedly embezzling almost $46,000 from
AARP in 2001. City Pulse reported the embezzlement probe a year ago
but was unable to identify the suspect.
allegedly shot Wilkerson, 31, multiple times June 9 and buried him behind
her home at 311 N. Martin Luther King Blvd., police said. Marquardt,
32, turned herself in July 7 hours after police, acting on a tip from
a friend of hers, discovered the body.
Jim Black, a postal inspector for the U.S. Postal Investigation Office
in Detroit, confirmed that Marquardt is suspected of having stolen the
money when she worked as the senior manager of the AARPs office
in downtown Lansing.
Black said Lansing police officers have advised him about the circumstances
of the murder. He said that he could not give any specifics about the
embezzlement case. No fraud charges have been filed against Marquardt.
Rumors about an embezzlement of $46,000 to $100,000 arose after Marquardt
took sick time in August 2000, and colleagues who routinely opened her
mail observed suspicious invoices, of which they eventually began to
make copies, sources said. The colleagues reported discovering fictitious
addresses of companies billing to AARP, observing bills for two unauthorized
cell phones and finding catalogue mail orders and evidence of personal
purchases on office accounts. They also saw receipts for a trip to northern
Michigan taken by Marquardt and Wilkerson.
AARP officials declined to comment on the new development. Bill Knox,
a spokesman for the state office, told City Pulse last year that the
embezzlement involved fraud and was discovered in February 2001, about
the same time Marquardt resigned after four years. At the time, AARP
employees in Lansing were told she had quit for health reasons.
A spokesman for AARP in Washington,D.C., told City Pulse last year that
an employee in the Lansing office reported the embezzlement to AARPs
Chicago office. Sources said the employee was a whistleblower who acted
independently of supervisors.
The Chicago office investigated the matter for several months before
reporting it to the AARPs board, which turned it over to postal
Asked why the investigation was still open, Fred VandePutte, a U.S.
postal inspector in Detroit, said cases with so much paperwork can go
on for months. Thats not unusual, said VandenPutte.
Also, we have to work with the prosecutor, who is on a schedule
regarding available resources and court times.
VandenPutte doesnt believe the murder case will have an effect
on their fraud investigation. It could conceivably affect the
prosecutors decision, but thats not something that we have
any control over, he said.
Since the embezzlement happened almost two years ago, AARP members have
questioned the organizations interest in resolving the case. I
am against crime, but they want to keep it hush-hush, said former
AARP volunteer John Willson, who resigned in protest and accused Michigan
AARP Director Steve Gools of sweeping things under the rug.
According to an AARP grievance file, Marquardt encouraged coworkers
to use office accounts for personal purchases. The same file claims
Gools must have known about at least some of the forbidden purchases.
Linda brought friends to the AARP Motown event. Steve authorized
the payment of two rooms, both under her name, one of which was also
used by her friends, who also used room service on the AARP bill,
wrote one staff member to the grievance file.
AARPs Knox declined to comment on any details of the case. The
only reason why the embezzlement issue is coming up again is because
Linda Marquardt has been arrested for murder, he said.
The murder case has nothing to do with the embezzlement. Im
not willing to confirm or deny anything about an ongoing investigation,
Knox said. The Lansing Police Department has not yet contacted the AARP
office, he added.
When asked if AARP had information they wished to share with the police,
Knox replied: I dont think so. Linda Marquardt is a resigned
employee, and is employed some place else now. The police might want
to talk to them.
Marquardt, who faces mandatory life in prison if convicted, is in the
Ingham County Jail without bond. Police learned about Wilkersons
death after Marquardt visited a friend in Stow, Ohio. Police say Marquardt
admitted to her friend that she had killed Wilkerson and buried him.
Then her friend called Ohio police, who contacted Lansing police with
a description of Marquardts house. Within several hours, police
identified the house and obtained a search warrant. They spent an hour
digging out the body in Marquardts back yard, which was littered
with toys of her three children. Investigators removed an above-ground
pool, which concealed the burial site.
Lansing police Sgt. Noel Garcia said they are still trying to find out
why Marquardt killed her boyfriend, but that an accident was unlikely.
Garcia said the police have gathered some evidence linking the crime
to domestic problems. There were definitely a whole lot of verbal
and mental problems between the both of them. We also have some evidence
that there are some physical altercations, Garcia said .
AARP employees reported a fight between Marquardts boyfriend and
another male friend during a double date at a bar in 2001.
Marquardts children, who are 8, 6, and 2 years old, probably do
not have direct knowledge of the crime, Garcia said. They knew
he was gone but didnt know what had happened to him, he
said. The sergeant added he hoped Marquardt would decide to let him
interview her before the preliminary hearing on July 21.
There are still so many open questions, Garcia said.
to respond? Send letters to email@example.com.
our Letters policy.