Executive Assistant Fuels Lavish Lifestyle by Fleecing Hewlett Packard of Approximately $1 Million
SAN DIEGO, CA—Holli Dawn Coulman, an executive assistant to an HP Senior Vice President, was sentenced today to a custodial sentence of 21 months for embezzling nearly $1 million from Hewlett Packard (“HP”). U.S. District Judge Michael M. Anello also ordered Coulman to pay $954,292.31 in restitution. After acknowledging both her accomplishments and the nature of the offense, Judge Anello remarked, “It’s almost like we have two people here.” Characterizing the offense as a “very serious crime,” Judge Anello noted that it “cries out for significant punishment.”
Coulman, who served as an executive assistant from 2008 to May 2012, admitted defrauding the company through a series of fraudulent employee reimbursements.
The fraud was possible as Coulman was entrusted with a number of American Express corporate credit cards as a result of her position at HP. These credit cards were to be used solely for authorized and approved business expenses. Coulman, however, used the cards to support an extravagant and luxurious lifestyle, including spending: (1) in excess of $100,000 at the La Costa Resort Spa; (2) more than $43,000 at the Lodge at Pebble Beach and Casa Palmero at Pebble Beach; (3) thousands of dollars in airfare for trips to Hawaii and Europe; (4) thousands of dollars purchasing items at the Apple Store; (5) more than $33,000 in BTO Sports motocross gear; and (6) thousands of dollars in charges to Neiman Marcus and Nordstroms. In addition, Coulman admitted using the company credit cards to pay for more than $350,000 in expenses accrued by her brother’s custom painting business in Colorado.
As revealed in court pleadings, Coulman went to great lengths to cover up her theft of company funds. Among other things, she intercepted e-mails sent from HP program administrators that questioned her various personal expenditures. After intercepting the incriminating e-mails, Coulman would often delete them before they could be reviewed by her boss, a senior vice president. Occasionally, Coulman would fabricate responses indicating that the expenses had been authorized by her boss, even going so far as to submit fabricated supporting documentation, receipts, and invoices. The restitution ordered as part of Coulman’s sentence represented the amount she stole from HP through her scheme.
United States Attorney Duffy added, “It is unfortunate that one person can easily inflict significant financial damage through our national stream of commerce by taking advantage of a trusted position at a major national corporation. We are grateful the FBI had the resources and ability to stop this ongoing fraud.”
Case Number: 14CR2424-MMA Holli Dawn Coulman Age: 44
SUMMARY OF CHARGE
Title 18, United States Code, Section 1343 (Wire Fraud) Maximum penalty: 20 years of custody; $250,000 Fine (or twice the gross loss of the offense)
Federal Bureau of Investigation