SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — A former state employee was sentenced to two years in prison and ordered to pay $481,200 in restitution for her role in a fraud scheme, the Office of U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced Thursday.
Christine M. Iwamoto, 48, is a former manager of the Office of AIDS within the California Department of Public Health. She was employed with the CDPH until March 2018, according to court documents.
Between December 2017 and November 2018, federal prosecutors said Iwamoto took part in a scheme organized by Schenelle M. Flores to divert funds from the CDPH for private use. Flores is also a former employee of the Office of AIDS.
On March 3, Flores was sentenced to nearly six years in prison and was ordered to pay over $2 million in restitution for organizing the scheme. Prosecutors said she’ll start her five-year-and-10-month prison sentence on May 18.
Flores, Iwamoto, other participants and their families and friends obtained at least $2 million in personal benefits, including cash and other purchased items, prosecutors said.
According to court documents, Flores ordered a state contractor to “make payments allegedly on behalf of the Office of AIDS,” causing the contractor to charge the payments to the state.
“Flores caused the contractor to pay for personal expenses on its debit cards, order gift cards for personal use, and pay false invoices to shell companies for services allegedly provided to the Office of AIDS,” prosecutors said.
Iwamoto set up a shell company and coordinated with Flores to submit false invoices to the state contractor, according to court documents. Prosecutors said those invoices “falsely claimed that Iwamoto’s company provided various consulting and meeting facilitation services to the Office of AIDS.”
As a result of the invoices, Iwamoto received $450,000 in payments, prosecutors said.
Iwamoto also obtained gift cards from the contractor and received hundreds of those gift cards for her personal use. Iwamoto was previously accused of using the name Patricia Roberts to bill the Office of AIDS.