A former executive at digital marketing company StyleHaul has admitted to embezzling over $22 million from his firm and then using part of these funds to gamble with cryptocurrencies.
StyleHaul, which was founded in 2011, represented social media influencers. On March 22, Variety reported that the parent company RTL Group had decided to shut down the U.S. operations (New York City and Los Angeles) of StyleHaul, but leave the UK Operations (London) alone.
According to a report in the Los Angeles Times, at one times, the company "managed 5,000 YouTube stars, many of them creators of fashion and beauty tutorials."
30-year-old Dennis Blieden is a professional poker player, and in March 2018, he won the World Poker Tour’s L.A. Poker Classic, where the top prize was $1 million. He was dismissed from StyleHaul in February 2019.
According to the press release by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California, Blieden pleaded guilty on Friday (November 22) to "federal criminal charges for embezzling more than $22 million from his employer and then using the stolen money for personal expenses and crypto-currency gambling."
Blieden, who now lives in Cincinnati, admitted to being guilty of "one count of wire fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft."
Per his plea agreement, Blieden served as "the controller and vice president of accounting and finance for StyleHaul." This meant that he had access to StyleHaul's bank accounts. Apparently, he used this access to transfer money from his firm to his personal bank account. Court documents show that Blieden "frequently engaged in online gambling with crypto-currency he purchased with embezzled money."
U.S. District Judge André Birotte Jr. scheduled the sentencing hearing on March 20, when "Blieden will face a statutory maximum sentence of 22 years in federal prison."
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