Can you face federal charges for a fake resume?
A fascinating story made the news about Sonja Emery, a former senior vice president at an Ann Arbor health care consulting firm.
Emery’s scheme included being “employed under false pretenses as a highly paid health care consultant.” She pleaded guilty to federal charges of mail fraud and tax evasion February 18, 2020 in Detroit federal court.
It’s reminiscent of the story of Frank Abagnale, Jr., the con artist who successfully posed as a doctor, lawyer, and co-pilot for a major airline before the age of 18.
Abagnale’s acting skills must have been superb. He was a brilliant forger, which was how he got into these jobs. And he was very intelligent. He passed the bar exam in Alabama at the age of 19 on his third try with only eight weeks of study to prepare.
Of course, he also became the United States’ most successful bank robber with his forgery skills and was hunted and ultimately caught by the FBI.
Forging Her Way to Vice President – Fake Resume
Sonja Emery’s forgery skills are perhaps more impressive in this technological age. It takes more than a pen and paper to make up several college degrees and licenses.
However, she successfully convinced companies and government health services agencies in several states, including Michigan, Wisconsin, Massachusetts, and California, that she was qualified as a healthcare executive.
Here’s what is so interesting: unlike Abagnale, Emery’s fake earned the $1.7 million she got through her fraudulent resumes.
It makes you wonder whether she was a brilliant administrator or if our health care system can’t tell the difference.
What Happens When the Law Catches Up
Emery’s mistake was tax evasion. She claimed to her employers she was exempt from federal tax withholding, and she used several fake social security numbers.
In addition, Emery went by aliases Sonjalee Emery-Robinson, Sonja Lee Robinson, and Sonjalee Emery. Emery owed $400,000 in taxes when she was arrested in 2018.
Unfortunately, she also faced federal mail fraud charges for the fraud part of her scheme. Mail fraud carries a sentence of up to 20 years in prison. Whether she knew it or not, Emery was risking much larger prison sentences by taking her fraud across state lines.
The FBI Got Help
In contrast, Frank Abagnale, Jr. spent less than five years in prison after he was caught, but not before escaping police custody twice. This story is depicted in the 2002 movie Catch Me If You Can. Abagnale published a book by the same name in 1980, as well as several others over the years.
Incredibly, Abagnale ended up working for the FBI for over 30 years. He became one of the world’s experts on document fraud, embezzlement, forgery, and check swindling. His work made it possible for law enforcement to catch Sonja Emery. He also spent years teaching people how to avoid becoming victims of fraud.
Federal Criminal Defense
For Sonja Emery, the con is over. Let’s hope her future is as bright as her predecessor’s future was all those years ago.
If you have ever wondered what might happen if you use false information on your resume to get a better job, it could end in mail fraud charges.
If you are facing federal charges, you need an experienced federal criminal defense attorney. Please call my office today.