THE ANGELS – A former executive at a Hollywood-based digital marketing company representing influencers on Instagram and YouTube was sentenced today to 79 months in federal prison for embezzling more than $ 22 million from his employer and then using the stolen money to personal expenses and cryptocurrency games. .
Dennis Blieden, 31, of Cincinnati, but previously living in Santa Monica, was sentenced by United States District Judge André Birotte Jr., who also ordered him to pay $ 22,669,979 in restitution.
Blieden pleaded guilty in November 2019 to one count of wire fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft.
From October 2015 to March 2019, Blieden was the controller and vice president of accounting and finance for StyleHaul Inc., a digital company that was once based in Hollywood. As part of his job, Blieden had control of the company’s bank accounts. He abused this authority to transfer company money to his personal bank account, then used the stolen money to pay for personal expenses, gambling debt, and to fund his cryptocurrency accounts.
To conceal his plan, Blieden made fraudulent entries in StyleHaul’s accounting records, falsely representing that the illegal wire transfers he made were authorized payments of money due to StyleHaul’s clients. Blieden also falsely indicated in one of StyleHaul’s bank accounts that the wire transfers to Blieden’s personal bank account were withdrawals of “capital” owed to him by the company. Additionally, Blieden created fictitious bank transfer letters that were purportedly from Western Union and designed to make it appear that he had caused StyleHaul bank transfers to pay money that he allegedly owed a customer.
Blieden also disguised his fraud by creating a fictitious lease in May 2018 for the rental of a condo in Rosarito Beach, Mexico that bore a forged signature of a StyleHaul executive. He wrongfully transferred $ 230,000 of StyleHaul funds by falsely representing that the condo was being rented for commercial purposes for StyleHaul clients and employees.
Blieden, who has participated in and won professional poker tournaments, also frequently participates in online gambling with cryptocurrencies that he purchased with embezzled money.
“(Blieden) … violated the trust and obligations to the young and perhaps unsophisticated YouTube, Instagram and other social media creators and influencers, who made money through their work on such platforms, who they were necessary to support their families, “prosecutors wrote. in your sentencing memorandum. “Those clients relied on defending themselves to do their job, when instead he stole millions (of dollars) from them.”
The FBI investigated this matter.
Assistant United States Attorney Valerie L. Makarewicz of the Major Fraud Section prosecuted this case.