Embezzlement, mail fraud: Vitech’s Christopher Phillips lived lavish life


  • BY Wire Service
  • Tuesday, August 4, 2009 1:00am
  • News

A former Kent businessman was sentenced Friday in U.S. District Court to 27 months in prison and three years of supervised release. In addition, the defendant, Christopher Phillips, former chief financial officer for Kent-based Vitech, was ordered to pay $310,850 in restitution for mail fraud.

Phillips, 63, who lives in Tacoma, worked at the breath-mint company from January 2002 to October 2005.

Phillips was charged after he used a Vitech credit card from May 2004 to October 2005 for personal expenses, and then wrote checks from company accounts to pay the credit-card bills, according to a U.S. Attorney’s Office media release.

Phillips disguised the entries of the payments in the company books to make it appear the checks were for legitimate business purposes, according to federal prosecutors. He also wrote checks to cash on Vitech accounts and kept the cash for personal use. He embezzled more than $300,000 from company accounts.

Vitech’s owners ultimately had to sell the business for a fraction of its worth.

At the sentencing, U.S. District Judge Richard A. Jones stated that Phillips’ conduct “all boils down to one single concept - progressive greed.”

According to court records, Phillips used the company credit card to buy airline tickets, expensive hotel stays, home furnishings, luxury purses and shoes, clothing and dental work, as well as jewelry and spa treatments.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Tessa Gorman said Phillips committed the crime “so that he could enjoy an extravagant lifestyle, filled with excessive purchases of clothing and household goods, fancy dinners, and lavish trips.”

The FBI investigated the case.

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