COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – A Powell man has pleaded guilty to embezzling more than $26 million from a Columbus furniture company.
Yi He, 35, admitted to charges of wire fraud and filing a false tax return while employed at the company from 2018 to 2022, according to the U.S. District Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio.
Court documents state Yi was the only employee tasked with handling the company’s payroll and payroll tax-related duties.
According to the U.S. District Attorney’s Office, Yi embezzled the money from the company’s accounts into his personal and financial investment accounts and submitted fake bank and financial statements to business leadership.
In one wire transfer in February of 2022, Yi allegedly wired $100,000 to himself and then faked the company’s bank statement for that month by removing the transaction from the records.
Yi also helped administer an employee incentive program that rewarded employees with 10 or more years of service a way to earn more and supplement their retirements, the attorney’s office said in a statement. Yi was accused of stealing more than $635,000 from the program’s account, including one transaction of $200,000 which he categorized as rent.
In total, Yi stole $26.5 million from the company, the attorney’s office said.
Yi also falsified his own income tax returns for 2018 through 2021, the statement reads, to the tune of approximately $6.8 million.
The company, which was not named in the statement, provides furniture for retailers like Walmart, Kohl’s, Ashley, and Wayfair.
As part of his plea agreement, Yi is ordered to pay more than $27 million in restitution to the company and forfeit two homes in Reynoldsburg and one home in Columbus.
In addition to the restitution, Yi is facing up to 23 years in prison.