A former assistant to a senior HP executive was sentenced to serve 21 months in prison for embezzling nearly $1 million in company funds for spa resorts, trips to Europe, Apple products and shopping sprees.
The woman was sentenced on Monday and ordered to pay $954,000 restitution, according to the San Diego Union Tribune. Holli Dawn Coulman, who worked at HP from 2000 to May 2012, pleaded guilty to the charges last year.
At HP, her job responsibilities included managing corporate credit cards that were intended to cover approved business expenses. However, an FBI investigation found that she abused her power and embezzled from the company to “support an extravagant and luxurious lifestyle.”
While indulging herself, she spent over $100,000 at the LA Costa Resort Spa, over $43,000 at the Lodge at Pebble Beach and Casa Palmero at Pebble Beach, thousands on airfare for trips to Hawaii and Europe, over $33,000 in BTO Sports motocross gear, and thousands at the Apple Store, Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom. Coulman also spent more than $350,000 to cover the expenses of her brother’s custom painting business in Colorado, which she charged on company credit cards.
Her suspicious activities caught the attention of HP administrators who asked about the expenditures. She covered up her tracks by intercepting and deleting their emails, sending fake email replies under her boss’s name to authorize the expenses, and fabricating invoices and receipts. In total, Coulman fraudulently justified stealing $954,292.31.
After she was fired from HP, Coulman found a job that she was subsequently terminated from as well. Not surprisingly, HP had contacted her new employer regarding the investigation.
In the FBI press release on the case, U.S. Attorney Duffy stated:
“This type of brazen corporate theft directly harms the shareholders of the company and the public at large due to increases in the costs of goods sold by companies. I commend the FBI for its work in uncovering this theft.”
In a letter she wrote to the court, Coulman expressed regret for her wrongdoing:
“I cannot offer any explanation for the criminally bad decisions I’ve made.
“[…] I would love for a do-over, and admittedly I am scared to death to go to prison. But I know there must be consequences. I live them daily and will do so for the rest of my life. Unfortunately, my former employer and my family must endure them as well.”