Former HP exec. assistant gets prison for embezzling

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SAN DIEGO — A former Hewlett Packard executive assistant who embezzled nearly $1 million from the company through a series of fraudulent employee reimbursements was sentenced in San Diego federal court Monday to 21 months in prison.

Holli Dawn Coulman, 44, was also ordered to pay more than $954,000 in restitution.

Coulman served as an executive assistant at HP from 2008 to 2012 and was entrusted with a number of American Express corporate credit cards as a result of her position at the company, prosecutors said.

The credit cards were to be used solely for authorized and approved business expenses, but prosecutors said Coulman used the cards to support an extravagant and luxurious lifestyle, including spending:

— more than $100,000 at the La Costa Resort Spa;

— more than $43,000 at the Lodge in Pebble Beach and Casa Palmero at Pebble Beach;

— thousands of dollars in airfare for trips to Hawaii and Europe;

— thousands of dollars for merchandise at the Apple Store;

— more than $33,000 in BTO Sports motocross gear; and

— thousands of dollars in charges at Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom.

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.

According to court documents, Coulman went to great lengths to cover up her theft.

Among other things, she intercepted emails sent from HP program administrators that questioned her various personal expenditures. After intercepting the incriminating emails, 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, according to court records.

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