Sonja Emery allegedly told employers and clients that she held a BSN, graduate degrees in health, business and philosophy, and 25 years of experience in leadership, none of which was true.
A healthcare consultant who allegedly fabricated her credentials and work experience to scam six-figure fees from her victims was indicted by a federal grand jury in Detroit for fraud and tax evasion.
According to an 11-count indictment unsealed this week, Sonja Emery allegedly told clients and employers that she was a registered nurse, had worked in healthcare management, and had various degrees, including a bachelor of science in nursing, master's degrees in health administration, and a doctor of philosophy degree.
The indictment alleges that Emery, also known as "Sonja Lee Robinson," "Sonjalee Emery-Robinson," "Sonjalee Emery," and other names, a resident of New York, New Jersey, and Georgia, earned six-figure salaries, failed to file timely tax returns, failed to pay income taxes on the scammed money, and lied to the Internal Revenue Service, from 2011 to 2014.
The employer and client victims of Emery's alleged fraud were not named in the 19-page indictment. However, the details of her four-year-long scam were in the document.
Among the alleged fabrications:
- From 2011 through March, 2014, Emery was employed as a senior vice president by an Ann Arbor-based healthcare consulting firm that paid her $285,000 a year, which she did not report to the IRS.
- In 2014, after leaving the Ann Arbor firm, Emery consulted for a Wisconsin-based "community health system" that paid her $267,000, which she did not report to the IRS.
- In late 2014, Emery consulted for a Massachusetts-based healthcare employer that paid her $226,000, which she did not report to the IRS.
- Emery claimed to be a registered nurse licensed in two states, but an investigation showed that she used the licensure numbers of two other people.
- Emery falsely claimed to have a BSN, a master's degree in health administration, a master's in business administration, and a doctorate in philosophy.
- Emery fabricated a 25-year career in healthcare, claiming executive experience at a major hospital and consulting firms in Atlanta and New York City. She provided employers and clients with extensive false or forged documents and references validating her fabricated background.
- Emery used fake Social Security numbers, misstated her tax liabilities, filed bogus W4 forms with the IRS, and lied about her tax status in a multi-year effort to shake federal auditors.
If convicted, Emery faces a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for each mail and wire fraud count, five years in prison for each tax evasion count, and three years in prison for lying to the IRS. She also faces restitution and monetary penalties.
John Commins is a senior editor at HealthLeaders.