Impostor nurse, 55, who earned $2.2million in seven years by lying about her NYU education to land high-flying jobs and evaded nearly $700K in taxes is sentenced to 65 months in prison
- Sonja Emery, 55, pleaded guilty earlier this year to counts of mail fraud and tax evasion
- Federal prosecutors said Emery’s scam spanned seven years and multiple states, and involved her using at least three different aliases
- Between 2011-2018, Emery lied about being a Registered Nurse and earning Bachelor’s, Master’s and PhD degrees from Emory University and NYU
- Using these fake credentials, Emery landed a job as a senior VP for an Michigan health care consulting firm, earning $285,000 a year
- She also was hired as a consultant in Wisconsin earning $267,000, and in Massachusetts earning $226,000
- During her scamming years, Emery either did not file taxes or filed them late, despite owing more than $400,000 in taxes
An impostor nurse who duped health care companies into hiring her for high-paying executive jobs by lying about her education has been sentenced to 65 months in prison for defrauding employers out of $2.2million and evading nearly $700,000 in taxes.
The Justice Department’s Tax Division and US Attorney Matthew Schneider for the Eastern District of Michigan stated in a press release on Wednesday that Sonja Emery’s fraud spanned seven years and multiple states.
According to documents and information provided to the court, Emery, 55, using several aliases including ‘Sonja Lee Robinson,’ ‘Sonjalee Emery-Robinson,’ and ‘Sonjalee Emery,’ lived 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 lucrative consulting positions in the health-care industry.
Emery falsely claimed to be a Registered Nurse licensed in New York, Georgia, Connecticut, and California, and provided employers with license numbers that belonged to other people, according to the Justice Department.
Emery also lied to employers she had a Bachelor of Science in nursing, a Master’s degree in health administration, a Master’s degree in business administration, and a Doctor of Philosophy degree from Emory and New York Universities, but she never attended those schools or earned those degrees.
Using these fake credentials, Emery landed a job as a senior vice president for an unnamed health care consulting firm in Ann Arbor, Michigan, earning an annual salary of $285,000. She also was hired as a consultant for a community health system in Wisconsin earning $267,000; and as a health care consultant for a Massachusetts company that paid her $226,000.
From 2015 until her arrest in May 2018, Emery worked as a senior executive for a county government health services agency in California that paid her a total of $960,000.
During these years, Emery either did not file taxes or filed them late, 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,’ according to the Justice Department’s press release.
On February 18, 2020, Emery pleaded guilty to mail fraud and tax evasion. She initially faced up to 25 years behind bars.
In addition to the prison sentence, US District Linda Parker ordered Emery to serve three years of supervised release and to pay approximately $2.2million in restitution to her scammed employers and $697,000 to the United States.