4 years in jail for Microsoft embezzler

Aug. 26, 2011 at 2:03 PM
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SEATTLE, Aug. 26 (UPI) -- A former Microsoft contractor in Washington state convicted of embezzling $500,000 Friday faced a four-year prison sentence.

Manyvone Phanhsiry pleaded guilty in April to taking $457,000 as a Microsoft contractor responsible for providing the corporation's interns with pre-paid debit cards, Seattlepi.com reported Thursday.

Phanhsiry requested excess debit cards, which were meant to pay interns' housing costs. She took at least 150 of the cards for herself, worth $2,500 to $5,000 each, using the cash for cosmetic surgery, trips to Las Vegas, four luxury cars and even her own wedding, the news Web site said.

Many of the interns were foreigners, making it easier for Phanhsiry to order debit cards in their names, prosecutors said.

"Once they completed their internships and returned to their respective home countries, it was less likely they would detect the cards she ordered in their names," Assistant U.S. Attorney Mary K. Dimke told the court. "Each of the 150 former interns could have faced tax consequences stemming from (Phanhsiry's) fraud."

In seeking the four-year prison term, prosecutors noted Phanhsiry's fraud continued after she was fired for the thefts. She collected $53,500 in unemployment benefits by claiming she was laid off rather than fired for her thefts.

"The (state) Employment Security Department contacted Ms. Phanhsiry about her misrepresentations," Dimke told the court. "In February 2011 -- after she was indicted and arrested -- she continued to tell the Employment Security Department that she was laid off and not terminated due to theft."

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