Former Michigan Health Care Consultant Pleads Guilty to Fraud and Tax Evasion
Used Faked Credentials to Obtain More than $1.4 Million, and Did Not Pay Taxes
A former health care consultant pleaded guilty today to mail fraud and tax evasion relating to her scheme to be employed under false pretenses as a highly paid health care consultant, announced Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Richard E. Zuckerman of the Justice Department’s Tax Division.
According to court documents and statements made in court, Sonja Emery, using several aliases including “Sonja Lee Robinson,” “Sonjalee Emery-Robinson,” and “Sonjalee Emery,” resided in Georgia, New Jersey, New York, and California. From 2011 through 2018, Emery falsely represented her professional status, educational background, and work experience to secure and maintain highly paid consulting positions in the health-care industry. She falsely claimed to have a nursing diploma from a school she never attended. She also falsely claimed to be a Registered Nurse licensed in New York, Georgia, Connecticut, and California and provided employers with licensure numbers that belonged to other people. In fact she never was a Registered Nurse. Emery also falsely told employers she had a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, a Master of Health Administration, a Master in Business Administration, and a Doctor of Philosophy from Emory University and New York University, but Emery never attended those schools or received these degrees.
As a result of these lies, from 2012 through 2018, Emery secured high-level health-care positions. She worked as a Senior Vice President for an Ann Arbor, Michigan healthcare consulting firm earning an annual salary of approximately $285,000; as a consultant for a community health system in Wisconsin earning approximately $267,000; and as a health care consultant for a Massachusetts company that paid her approximately $226,000. From 2015 until her arrest in May of 2018, Emery worked as a senior executive for a county government health services agency in California that paid her a total of approximately $960,000.
During these years, Emery either did not file or late-filed tax returns, despite owing more than $400,000 in taxes. She sought to avoid being detected by providing employers with different names and false social security numbers, by falsely instructing employers that she was “exempt” from taxes, and by supplying an employer with an identification number that did not belong to her.
U.S. District Judge Linda V. Parker scheduled sentencing for June 17, 2020. At sentencing, Emery faces a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for mail fraud and five years in prison for tax evasion. Emery also faces a period of supervised release, restitution, and monetary penalties.
Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Zuckerman commended special agents of IRS Criminal Investigation and Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, who conducted the investigation, and Trial Attorneys Jeff McLellan and Jack Morgan of the Tax Division, who are prosecuting the case.
Additional information about the Tax Division and its enforcement efforts may be found on the division’s website.
The year 2020 marks the 150th anniversary of the Department of Justice. Learn more about the history of our agency at www.Justice.gov/Celebrating150Years.