A 29-year-old man has admitted to embezzling approximately $22 million from a marketing company that represents social media influencers. The man’s guilty pleas to wire fraud and aggravated identity theft charges were announced by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California on Nov. 22. The man could be sent to prison for up to 22 years when he is sentenced on March 20.
According to federal prosecutors, the man embezzled the money between October 2015 and March 2019 while he was the comptroller of a Hollywood digital marketing company. The company has since relocated to London. The man admits that he wired company funds to his personal bank account to invest in cryptocurrencies, buy into poker tournaments, make payments to poker players and pay his credit card bills.
Court documents reveal that the man concealed his illegal activities by making the embezzled funds appear to be payments to clients and money he was legitimately owed. He is also said to have fabricated transfer letters from Western Union to make the client payments appear genuine. Other activities the man admits to engaging in to hide his embezzlement include drafting a fake lease for a condominium in Mexico and forging the signature of a company executive. Federal prosecutors added the identity theft charge when they learned about the falsified lease.
Cases involving white-collar crimes like embezzlement, identity theft and fraud are often complex, and juries sometimes have difficulty following elaborate money trails. This is why federal prosecutors usually try to resolve these matters before they proceed to court. A criminal defense attorney may advocate on behalf of a defendant in a federal case by offering U.S. attorneys a swift resolution in return for a substantially reduced sentence. Legal counsel could also cite mitigating factors such as genuine remorse and the desire to make restitution.