Travel Manager Pleads Guilty to Defrauding Employer Using Hotel Booking Scheme
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Virginia
RICHMOND, Va. – A Beaverdam woman pleaded guilty today to conducting financial transactions involving the criminal proceeds of her scheme to defraud her employer.
According to court documents, Roxanne Sullivan, 61, was the Travel Manager for a Midwest-based venue preparation company. Sullivan was a full-time, salaried employee, responsible for booking travel and lodging accommodations for the company's workers as they moved from job to job. Sullivan was also a registered travel agent and subscribed to a travel agent commission-processing system. As a travel agent working for clients, Sullivan could earn commissions on the bookings she completed. Commission is a payment remitted to the travel agent by the hotel that consists of a pre-determined portion of the lodging or travel accommodations purchased by the travel agent's client. Because a hotel is required to remit a portion of a booking customer's payment to the travel agent—in effect, reducing the hotel's proceeds for that transaction—a hotel's “commissionable rates" for hotel rooms are often more expensive than “non-commissionable rates," which instead allow the hotel to keep the entirety of the transaction proceeds.
Between 2016 and 2022, Sullivan defrauded her employer by booking "commissionable" rates at hotels, rather than the lower, corporate, but non-commissionable, rates that were otherwise available to her company. She then directed these higher commission payments from the commission-processing system to her bank account. Sullivan deliberately concealed her commissionable rate scheme from her employer, instructing hotel representatives to remove language referencing commissions from her contracts, and doctoring emails to delete references to her commissions. When confronted by federal agents about her scheme, Sullivan lied to the agents about aspects of her scheme.
The total loss attributable to Sullivan's scheme is estimated at $525,000.
Sullivan is scheduled to be sentenced on March 19, 2024. She faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Jessica D. Aber, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Stanley M. Meador, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Richmond Field Office; and Kareem A. Carter, IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge of the Washington D.C. Field Office, made the announcement after U.S. District Judge M. Hannah Lauck accepted the plea.
Hanover County Sheriff’s Office provided significant assistance in this investigation.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas A. Garnett is prosecuting the case.
A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information are located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 3:23-cr-138.
Updated November 16, 2023