A former manager in HBO’s Talent Relations Department agreed to plead guilty to federal charges alleging she stole about $1 million from the network by submitting bogus invoices, court documents filed Wednesday show.
Jennifer Choi, 38, of Valley Village, will plead guilty to two counts of wire fraud and one count of tax evasion, according to documents filed in Los Angeles federal court.
Choi worked for nearly 10 years at HBO, where she was responsible for scheduling services — such as hair-styling, wardrobe and make-up — for actors associated with the network.
Using a company she created called Shine Glossy, Choi submitted bogus invoices to HBO for style and make-up services for actors, prosecutors allege.
However, the services were never actually provided, and HBO funds instead went directly into a bank account she had established, prosecutors allege.
Through Shine Glossy, Choi submitted nearly 300 fraudulent invoices that led HBO to pay about $940,000, according to court papers.
“Ms. Choi has admitted to bilking her employer out of nearly a million dollars through a fraud scheme that used a fake company that provided no services,” said Eileen M. Decker, the U.S. attorney in Los Angeles.
“This long-term scheme violated both her duty to her employer as well as federal law, and Ms. Choi now faces serious consequences beyond losing her job,” Decker said.
Choi also admitted in a plea agreement that she used a car service for herself, her family and her friends and provided HBO’s account information, which led the car service to bill HBO for the unauthorized rides totaling nearly $63,000, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Choi was terminated by HBO in September 2014.
“The defendant stole $1 million from her employer by concocting a scheme to conceal her misdeeds — enriching herself by choosing greed over good judgment,” said David Bowdich, assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles office. “The FBI will continue to work with our partners to ensure that those who engage in this kind of financial fraud are held accountable.”
In her plea agreement, Choi also admitted that she failed to file federal income tax returns for several years, even though she earned hundreds of thousands of dollars in the years 2011, 2013 and 2014. She also admitted significantly under-reporting her income when she did file tax returns for the years 2010 and 2012, according to the government.
Choi is expected to make her first court appearance on Feb. 19. If convicted as charged at trial, Choi would face up to 45 years in prison, although prosecutors believe that her actual sentence will be significantly less than that.
The actual sentence will be determined solely by the judge presiding over the case.
— Wire reports