Former HBO Employee Who Stole $1 Million Sentenced To 30 Months In Prison
Sparing you from any "this isn't the movies, it's real life" jokes, a former HBO employee charged with stealing $1 million from the TV network has been sentenced to 30 months in federal prison.
According to KNBC, Jennifer Choi, 39, who arranged various service including hair and make-up for actors, was convicted of wire fraud and tax evasion resulting in a court-ordered repayment of $1.3 million to HBO and the IRS.
Choi was fired from HBO in 2014 after it was revealed that she had written some 300 fake checks that redirected money from the company into her own bank account. In addition, she used upwards of $60,000 worth of unauthorized company services for herself and her family.
“She was just a really normal, sweet, involved mom,” an staff member at Sunnyside Preschool in Studio City, where Choi's 2-year-old daughter attended, told Variety.
Choi is also the mother of a 6-year-old son, and her husband, Alex Harris, was a groomsman at the 2009 wedding of Lamar Odom and Khloe Kardashian.
“This was a crime motivated by greed,” Assistant U.S. Attorney. Jeffrey Chemerinsky wrote of Choi, notes the Los Angeles Times. “Almost all of this money appears to have been spent to support an extravagant lifestyle. Defendant was not driven to her crimes as many defendants who come before this court are: by need, by desperation or by the inability to do anything else.”
But in a letter written to the judge, Choi states that her life “spiraled out of control” after she was diagnosed with HIV in 2007.
“I do not have a fairy tale life,” Choi added. “The glitz and glamour of the entertainment world were just distractions. ...I am deeply ashamed and regret all the pain I have caused my former co-workers, parents, husband, children and friends.”
According to Variety, while prosecutors sought 50 months (four years and two months) in federal prison, as well as 3 years of probation, for Choi, her 30-month sentence means she will only see the inside of a federal prison for two-and-a-half years.
I guess it's true: a million dollars doesn't buy what it used to.