Embezzler gets term of nearly four years

Woman pleaded guilty to stealing $860,751.88 from company


She didn't wear her personalized pink mink to her sentencing in federal court.

Gone too were the Louis Vuitton handbags she stole $4,000 to buy. And no sign of the expensive rings and watch that set her employer back $8,000 more. The government took it all.

For Bryn D. Phillips, a once promising Baltimore accountant with a $75,000-a-year job, the bill came due yesterday when U.S. District Judge William M. Nickerson sentenced her to three years and eight months in prison. The 31-year-old pleaded guilty in May to stealing $860,751.88 from Old Mutual Financial Network and has agreed to pay back the stolen funds.

Phillips used company accounts "like her personal piggy bank," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Harry M. Gruber.

Among her purchases were a paid entry in Empire Executives who's who of business professionals, which cost $700.

Phillips liked the shopping Web site E-Luxury. She spent $1,000 at the Gucci store in the Bahamas. Prosecutors didn't specify the cost of the tickets to game four of the NBA finals in Detroit or the Las Vegas title fight and room at the Venetian.

In New York, she spent $4,500 per visit at Louis Vuitton. In her spare time, Phillips spent $10,000 of other people's money on a handwriting course.

At Lowe's, she spent $7,000 on appliances to upgrade the Baltimore home she shared with her mother.

Phillips shelled out $4,095 for a pink mink jacket with faux trim at a Towson store. Prosecutors said she had it emblazoned with her name.

Phillips had a hopeful start. She graduated from Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda before earning a degree in accounting from Morgan State University. Her college grade point average was 3.16.

She felt she had the right to siphon Old Mutual funds through fake wire transfers and to doctor her corporate credit card receipts, said her attorney Jonathan N. Portner.

She blamed company officials for unfairly saddling her with 16-hour workdays, he said, and illness and family issues compounded her sense of entitlement.

Portner said her arrest chastened his client. Phillips apologized to the court yesterday.

"I made horrific and horrendous decisions," she told the judge, adding that she was trying to "get myself on track morally."

Yesterday, she wore black sling-backs, gray capris and a black sweater over a matching T-shirt.

On another day, maybe before she was arrested by the U.S Postal Inspection Service and the FBI, the shirt might have sported a giant G for Gucci.

But not this day. On this day, Bryn Phillips' shirt read Banana Republic.


Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.