Fake Michigan nurse who secured VP position at an Ann Arbor health center is sentenced to prison.
Sonja Emery, who claimed to be a nurse although she was not licensed so she could secure a vice president job at an Ann Arbor health care consulting firm, has been sentenced to 65 months in prison for defrauding employers of more than $2.2 million as well as evading $700,000 in taxes, according to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).
Emery lied to her employers when she said she attended New York University and Emory University and had numerous master’s degrees as well as a doctorate. She also claimed she had held a job as a registered nurse licensed in multiple states and would supply license numbers to employers that were actually those belonging to other individuals.
Court records contend, “From 2011 through 2018, Emery falsely represented her professional status, educational background, and work experience to secure and maintain highly paid consulting positions in the health-care industry.” She was able to “secure high-level health care jobs from 2011 to 2018, including a senior vice president position at an Ann Arbor firm, where she earned about $285,000 a year,” the DOJ said.
The department’s release states, “According to court documents and statements made in court, Sonja Emery, using several aliases including Sonja Lee Robinson, Sonjalee Emery-Robinson, and Sonjalee Emery, resided 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 and maintain highly paid consulting positions in the health-care industry. She falsely claimed to have a nursing diploma from a school she never attended. She also falsely claimed to be a Registered Nurse licensed in New York, Georgia, Connecticut, and California and provided employers with licensure numbers that belonged to other people. In fact, she never was a Registered Nurse. Emery also falsely told employers she had a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, a Master of Health Administration, a Master in Business Administration, and a Doctor of Philosophy from Emory University and New York University, but Emery never attended those schools or received these degrees.”
Emery also committed tax evasion during this time period. The release continues, “During these years, Emery either did not file or late-filed tax returns, 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.”
In addition to prison time, Michigan federal Judge Linda Parker, nominated by former U.S. president Barack Obama, ordered Emery to serve three years of supervised release and pay more than $2 million in restitution to the employers she duped to compensate their time and resources to hire her. She must also pay $697,000 to the United States to compensate for its investigatory efforts.