Furniture company employee sentenced to 5 years in prison for embezzling more than 26 million dollars from employer


Date: April 17, 2024


A Central Ohio man was sentenced in U.S. District Court here today to 60 months in prison for embezzling more than $26 million from his Columbus employer.

As part of his sentence, Yi He, of Powell, will pay restitution to his former employer and to the IRS, and he will forfeit a Tesla vehicle.

According to court documents, Yi was a long-time and trusted employee of a furniture company that provides furniture to retailers like Wayfair, Overstock, Kohls, Walmart and Ashley. Yi was solely responsible for payroll and payroll tax-related duties for the company.

From 2018 until 2022, Yi embezzled money from the company’s bank account into his own personal and financial investment accounts. Yi submitted false and fraudulent bank and financial statements to the company’s leadership to remain undetected.

For example, in one wire transfer in February 2022, Yi wired himself $100,000. Yi falsified that month’s bank account statement by removing the transaction entirely.

In total, Yi stole $26.5 million from the company.

Yi also helped oversee an employee incentive LLC that rewarded company employees with 10 or more years of service. The LLC offered employees a way to earn more and supplement retirement. Yi similarly embezzled from the LLC’s bank accounts. For example, in one wire transfer in April 2022, he paid himself $200,000 by falsely categorizing the transfer as “Rent.” In total, he stole $635,000 from the LLC.

Yi failed to accurately report his income to the IRS for tax years 2018 through 2021, causing a total tax loss of approximately $6.8 million.

Yi pleaded guilty in August 2023 to committing wire fraud and filing a false tax return.

Kenneth L. Parker, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio; and Karen Wingerd, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI); announced the sentence imposed today by U.S. District Judge Sarah D. Morrison. Deputy Criminal Chief Jessica W. Knight is representing the United States in this case.