Bakersfield Man Sentenced to 57 Months in Prison for Role in Fraudulent Transfer of Funds from a Victim’s Brokerage Account
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Christopher Firle, 51, of Fairfield, pleaded guilty today to one count of wire fraud, Acting U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced.
According to court documents, Firle was the Chief Financial Officer of a holding company that managed several vehicle dealerships. From January 2016 through September 2019, Firle misappropriated over $1.6 million from the company. He carried out his embezzlement scheme in multiple ways, including by using company credit cards to pay for over $750,000 in personal expenses. The unauthorized charges included tickets to sporting events and purchases at several retail stores, including Bergdorf Goodman, Chanel, Hermès, Nordstrom, and Tiffany & Co. Firle also initiated over 30 unauthorized wire transfers from the company to a family member. Those transfers totaled over $500,000. Additionally, Firle issued over 30 unauthorized company checks to himself that totaled over $165,000, and he withdrew over $50,000 from a company account without authorization. Finally, Firle issued himself excess bonus payments totaling almost $160,000.
This case is a product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant United States Attorney Matthew Thuesen is prosecuting the case.
As part of his guilty plea, Firle agreed to pay restitution of $1,937,706 to his former employer. He also agreed to forfeit $1,652,269.44 to the United States.
U.S. District Judge John A. Mendez is scheduled to sentence Firle on October 19, 2021. Firle faces a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the court’s discretion after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.