Former HBO talent relations manager Jennifer Choi was sentenced to 30 months in prison on Thursday for stealing nearly $1 million from the subscription network during her six years of employment.
The sentence was handed down in federal court in downtown Los Angeles by U.S. District Judge John Kronstadt. Last January, Choi pleaded guilty to two counts of felony wire fraud and one count of tax evasion.
The judge also added a sentence of three years of supervised release, including six months of house arrest, which will follow Choi’s prison term. Choi will also be required to pay just over $1 million to HBO and approximately $283K to the IRS as restitution.
“This defendant engaged in a sophisticated fraud scheme that resulted in the theft of approximately $1 million from the victim company and nearly $300,000 from American taxpayers,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “The criminal conduct in this case continued for years, and the pace of the theft accelerated over time. This was a crime motivated by greed and a desire to fund an extravagant lifestyle.”
Choi, who joined HBO in 2004, worked as a scheduler who handled the hairstyling, wardrobe and make-up services for the company’s actors. She was fired in September 2014.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Choi established a phony company called Shine Glossy, LLP, through which she submitted fraudulent invoices for styling services given to actors. However, court documents say, the services were not rendered and Choi pocketed the money that HBO paid. In all, Choi’s approximately 300 bogus invoices netted her about $940,000.
In addition, Choi admitted in her plea agreement last January that she pocketed another $63,000 for car-service rides that she, her family and her friends took and then submitted to HBO for reimbursement.
Choi additionally admitted that, from 2010 to 2014, she either did not file federal income tax returns or filed returns that under-reported her income when she had, in fact, earned hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Choi will begin her sentence on March 14.