Former T.J. Martell Executive Sentenced to Four Years in Prison for Embezzlement

Melissa Ann Goodwin was also ordered to pay $3.9 million after embezzling nearly $4 million from the charity organization.

Courtesy Photo

Melissa Ann Goodwin, former executive vp/general manager of the T.J. Martell Foundation for Cancer Research, was sentenced to four years in prison Thursday (Aug. 11) after pleading guilty to embezzling more than $3.7 million from the foundation in February.

William Campbell Jr., U.S. District Judge for the Middle District of Tennessee, also ordered Goodwin to pay $3.9 million in restitution. She could have received up to a 20-year prison sentence, but likely received a lighter sentence after cooperating with prosecutors.

As Billboard initially reported in January, Goodwin was charged with wire fraud for embezzling nearly $4 million over a two-year period.

“This was a terrible situation, where a trusted person stole from a non-profit organization that provides vital funds for the fight against cancer,” said the foundation in a statement. “While we believe justice was served in this case, we look forward to seeking full restitution through our pending civil lawsuits against others who either participated in this scheme or should have caught it before it happened.”

Goodwin is still facing two separate civil lawsuits from the foundation, filed against her and others allegedly involved in the scheme. The T.J. Martell Foundation for Cancer Research was formed by record executive Tony Martell in 1975, following the death of his son, T.J., from leukemia. Supported primarily by the music industry, T.J. Martell holds multiple annual charitable events, auctions and campaigns with the music community in Los Angeles, New York, Nashville and Miami and has raised more than $280 million.

According to prosecutors, Goodwin used a company credit card to purchase approximately $3.96 million in concert and sporting event tickets, including for shows by Lady Gaga and Celine Dion and the Super Bowl. She also allegedly bought plane tickets, alcohol and hotel stays. Goodwin then turned some of the items over to the owner of a charity auction business to resell.

Prosecutors also say she falsified credit card statements, created fake expense reports, and replaced the ticket expenses with other vendor names to make the charges appear to be legitimate foundation expenses.

Goodwin’s attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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