Federal prosecutors say that a 29-year-old man embezzled more than $22 million from a California marketing firm to enter poker tournaments, invest in cryptocurrencies, and pay his credit card bills. The man was taken into custody in Las Vegas on July 10 according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Central District of California. He has been charged with 14 counts of wire fraud, forfeiture, and aggravated identity theft and could be sentenced to more than 200 years in a federal prison if convicted on all counts.
The man was hired by the marketing company, which represents several social media influencers, in October 2015. Prosecutors say that he took advantage of the control he had over the firm's bank accounts to transfer funds to his personal account until he was fired in March 2019. The company ceased operations in the United States in March but continues to do business in the United Kingdom according to media reports.
Prosecutors say that the man employed elaborate tactics to conceal his financial fraud from his employers. One of these schemes allegedly involved forging an executive's signature on real estate documents to make a $230,000 luxury condominium rental look like a business expense. He is accused stealing $1,204,000 to enter poker tournaments, $8,473,734 to invest in cryptocurrencies, and $1,134,956 to pay off credit card debts.
The key pieces of evidence in embezzlement prosecutions are usually financial records and other documents that could be difficult to contradict, but these cases are often complex and juries may find them difficult to follow. Criminal defense attorneys with experience in white-collar crime cases could point out the risks of arguing before a jury during plea negotiations, and they may urge U.S. prosecutors to reduce the penalties in return for a quick resolution and a successful outcome.