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Press Release

San Jose Resident Sentenced To 33 Months In Prison For Conspiracy And Wire Fraud

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of California
Defendant Ordered to Pay Over $1.69 Million in Restitution For Schemes to Defraud Employer Using Fake Vendor and Kickbacks

SAN JOSE- Skylar Ariel Phoenix was sentenced to 33 months’ imprisonment and ordered to pay over $1.69 million in restitution for wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud, announced United States Attorney Brian J. Stretch and FBI Special Agent in Charge John F. Bennett.  The sentence, handed down yesterday by the Honorable Lucy H. Koh, U.S. District Judge, follows a guilty plea entered March 15, 2016. 

According to the guilty plea, Phoenix, 52, of San Jose, admitted she was an employee in the marketing department of an insurance company from approximately June 2003 until September 2011.  While she was employed as a manager of the company, Phoenix arranged to have the company billed for work that was not authorized.  Specifically, Phoenix conspired to hire her spouse as an independent contractor under her sole supervision in clear violation of internal policies and procedures.  Further, she took steps to conceal the familial relationship by using an alias for her spouse and by using another family member’s home as her spouse’s address.  Phoenix’s former employer identified 13 checks between September 21, 2004, and April 28, 2006, totaling $97,652,00 for work that was never provided. In addition, between June 2007 and March 2011, Phoenix created four requisition forms to provide further supposed employment for her spouse.  The requisition forms generated additional billings to her then-employer of $382,562.50 and no work was completed in exchange for the money. 

In addition, Phoenix admitted as part of her plea agreement that she engaged in a second, separate scheme to defraud the insurance company by placing marketing business with a friend’s company as an outside vendor in exchange for a total of $357,452 in kickbacks over several years.  Phoenix acknowledged she knew the receipt of the kickbacks was a direct violation of her employer’s ethics policy. 

A federal grand jury indicted Phoenix on June 18, 2014, for two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1349; multiple counts of wire fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1343 and 2; and two counts of making false statements to a government agent, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1001.  Pursuant to her plea agreement, Phoenix pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy and one count of wire fraud covering each of the two separate schemes.

In addition to the prison term and restitution, Judge Koh sentenced Phoenix to a three-year term of supervised release.  Judge Koh ordered Phoenix to surrender on or before November 2, 2016 to begin serving her sentence. 

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Amie Rooney and Maia Perez prosecuted the case with the assistance of Elise Etter.  The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the FBI.

Updated September 20, 2016

Financial Fraud