The former CFO of an auto dealership holding company was sentenced to three years and five months in prison for embezzling $1.9 million, federal prosecutors said Tuesday.
Christopher Firle, 53, of Fairfield, Calif., carried out the four-year embezzlement scheme in multiple ways, including by using company credit cards to pay for over $750,000 in personal expenses, according to a press release issued by the U.S. attorney’s office for the Eastern District of California.
The scheme lasted from January 2016 through September 2019, prosecutors said. Besides getting sentenced to prison, Firle was ordered to pay $1.9 million to his former employer and about $1.7 million to the U.S. government.
The sentencing follows a 2021 guilty plea by Firle, whose former employer was Farfield-based Price-Simms Holdings LLC, according to a U.S. attorney's office spokesperson. The government’s press release did not disclose the company’s name.
“The unauthorized [credit card] charges included tickets to sporting events and purchases at several retail stores, including Bergdorf Goodman, Chanel, Hermes, Nordstrom, and Tiffany & Co.,” the release said. “Firle also initiated over 30 unauthorized wire transfers from the company to a family member. Those transfers totaled over $500,000.”
In addition, Firle issued over 30 unauthorized company checks to himself totaling more than $165,000 and withdrew more than $50,000 from a company account without authorization, according to the release. He also issued himself excess bonus payments totaling almost $160,000, it said.
The case grew out of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Thuesen.