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Woman Claimed To Be Registered Nurse With Lofty Education. She Was A Fraud.
Nurse tending patient in intensive care - stock photo
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Sonja Emery seemed to have everything a hospital could want: Multiple master’s degrees and even a doctorate from prestigious universities; licensed in California, Connecticut, Georgia, and New York; and a lengthy and laudable resume.

She used these impressive credentials to get a job at an Ann Arbor, Michigan, health care consulting firm as a senior vice president, Fox News reported. Her annual salary? About $285,000. She was then able to secure consultant jobs at firms in Massachusetts and Wisconsin, where she was paid salaries between $226,000 and $267,000. Between 2015 and 2018, she was paid about $960,000 as a senior executive for a health services agency in a California county.

The problem? Everything Emery claimed about herself – from her education to her licenses to her work history used to obtain the lucrative positions – was a lie, the Department of Justice alleges:

According to documents and information provided to the 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 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’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 Emery never attended those schools or received such degrees.

During the years Emery used her false claims to secure high-paying jobs, she either didn’t file tax returns or filed them late. “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,” the DOJ said.

Emery was arrested in 2018 and pleaded guilty to mail fraud and tax evasion in February. This week she was sentenced to 65 months (more than five years) in prison, another three years of supervised release, and was ordered to pay back the $2.2 million she fraudulently received from employers and another $697,000 in restitution to the U.S.

Emery faced up to 20 years in prison for mail fraud and five years for tax evasion for a total potential maximum of 25 years in prison. She received a fifth of that sentence.

Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Richard E. Zuckerman of the Justice Department’s Tax Division and U.S. Attorney Matthew J. Schneider for the Eastern District of Michigan were the ones to announce Emery’s sentence on Thursday.

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