News and Press Releases

CFO Used Company Credit Card and Accounts for over $300,00 of Personal Expenses

July 31, 2009

CHRISTOPHER W. PHILLIPS, 63, of Tacoma, Washington, was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to 27 months in prison, three years of supervised release and $310,850.07 in restitution for Mail Fraud. From January 2002, to October 2005, PHILLIPS was employed as the Chief Financial Officer for Vitech, a Kent, Washington, company that manufactures breath mints and breath strips. The owners of the company also controlled Parker Properties LLC. In obtaining the job, PHILLIPS had represented himself as a Certified Public Accountant licensed in the State of Illinois, although this was not true.

From May of 2004, until October 2005, PHILLIPS used a Vitech credit card for personal expenses and then wrote checks from Vitech accounts to pay the credit card bills. Additionally, PHILLIPS used Vitech funds to pay his personal credit card bills and to make payments on his home equity line of credit. PHILLIPS disguised the entries of the payments in the company books to make it appear the checks were for legitimate business purposes. PHILLIPS also wrote checks to cash on both the Vitech accounts and the Parker Properties LLC accounts. PHILLIPS then kept the cash and used it for his own purposes. In total, PHILLIPS embezzled more than $310,000 from the company accounts. Vitech’s owners ultimately had to sell the business for a fraction of its worth.

At sentencing, U.S. District Judge Richard A. Jones stated that PHILLIPS’ conduct “all boils down to one single concept . . . progressive greed” and further stated that PHILLIPS turned “thievery into an act of entitlement,” treating the embezzled funds as “part of his regular compensation.” Judge Jones commented that PHILLIPS’ actions were “a substantial and major factor in termination and loss of this business.”

According to the pleadings in the case, PHILLIPS used his Vitech company credit card to purchase airline tickets, expensive hotel visits, home furnishings, luxury purses and shoes, clothing, dental work, jewelry, and salon and spa treatments. In asking for the 27-month sentence, Assistant United States Attorney Tessa Gorman stated PHILLIPS committed the crime, “so that he could enjoy an extravagant lifestyle, filled with excessive purchases of clothing and household goods, fancy dinners, and lavish trips.” Noting that PHILLIPS had a BS and an MBA, AUSA Gorman stated in her sentencing memorandum that “despite this strong educational background, despite the esteemed, high-paying jobs, and despite having opportunities, Mr. Phillips chose to commit crime.”

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Tessa Gorman.

For additional information please contact Tessa Gorman at (206) 553-7970.

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