In House Lwyer For Californian Fintech Company Stole Money From Company To Board Dogs

A former top lawyer for a California-based fintech company, who used its funds to pay for dog boarding and other personal expenses, has been sentenced to 37 months in prison, according to a new court filing.

Brooke Solis was ordered by Judge James Donato in San Francisco federal court, to pay $500,000 in restitution to Good Money Inc., which was listed in the filing as victim of the wire fraud.

While acting as general counsel and chief business officer, Solis submitted fake invoices to her employer from a shell company called The Paralegal Group LLC, which she owned, according to a Tuesday Department of Justice statement.

Even after leaving the company, she diverted a total of $400,000 from her ex-employer to her personal checking account, the Justice Department said.

According to an FBI affidavit filed in August 2020, just two days after leaving her job, Solis submitted a $4,575 reimbursement request to her ex-employer for the boarding of two dogs. She immediately approved the request herself and received the money soon after via another LLC that she controlled.

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DOJ Press Release

Former General Counsel And Chief Business Officer For Financial Technology Company Sentenced To More Than Three Years In Prison For Embezzlement Scheme

SAN FRANCISCO—Brooke Campbell Solis was sentenced to 37 months in prison and ordered to pay $500,000 in restitution for wire fraud charges levied in connection with a scheme to embezzle funds from her former employer, announced United States Attorney Stephanie M. Hinds and FBI Special Agent in Charge Craig D. Fair.  The sentence was handed down by the Honorable James Donato, U.S. District Judge.

Solis, 51, of Austin, Texas, pleaded guilty to the charges on August 23, 2021.  According to the plea agreement, in January of 2018, Solis was an attorney licensed to practice law in the State of California when she was hired by a San Francisco-based financial technology company as its general counsel. For most of her employment, she was permitted to work remotely from her home in Austin, Texas.  In her capacity as general counsel, she managed the legal, financial, and accounting practices for the company and in March, 2019, she was promoted to the position of Chief Business Officer at the company.  In connection with her job responsibilities, Solis was given “Super Administrative” privileges within the accounting and expense management programs used by her employer.  According to the plea agreement, Solis acknowledged that she used these privileges to defraud her former employer and embezzle money from the company.

One method Solis used to defraud her former employer was by preparing and using fraudulent invoices.  Specifically, she requested payment from the employer to a shell company, The Paralegal Group LLC, that she created and controlled.  On June 2, 2019, Solis entered into a consulting agreement between The Paralegal Group and her employer. Solis used the initials “R.D.,” to sign the agreement.   On the same day that Solis signed the consulting agreement—both on behalf of herself as The Paralegal Group and for her employer—Solis also submitted an invoice for $9,222.50 from The Paralegal Group.  The invoice was dated May 31, 2019, before the consulting agreement even came into existence.

Another method Solis used to defraud her former employer was to seek reimbursement for fraudulent expenses.  For example, on July 24, 2019, two days after ending her employment with her former employer, Solis submitted a personal expense of $4,575, for 61 days of “Jackson and Oliver boarding” at a dog boarding company. In the plea agreement, Solis admitted that the boarding of the dogs was a personal expense.  Nevertheless, at the time she submitted the fraudulent expense, she had access to her previous employers account and still exercised super-administrative privileges which had not yet been taken away from her. In sum, Solis caused payment of the $4,575 to be paid by her former employer and the funds to be electronically deposited into her personal account.

Solis also continued to defraud the company after she left.  She was charged with, and pled guilty to, four wire fraud transactions, in which she diverted at least $400,000 of the company’s money to her own personal checking account nearly two months after her employment ended.  In total, Solis stole more than $500, 000 from the victim company.

On July 29, 2021, the Office of the United States Attorney for the Northern District of California filed an information charging Solis with six counts of wire fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1343.  Solis pleaded guilty to all six counts.

Solis agreed to surrender her license to practice law as part of her plea agreement. Judge Donato ordered the defendant to self-surrender and begin serving her prison term on March 21, 2022. In addition, Judge Donato ordered Solis to serve a three-year term of supervised release to begin after the prison term has expired.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Robin Harris is prosecuting the case.  The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.