January 12 2012
LOS ANGELES – The operators of a Marina Del Rey company that provided bill paying, bookkeeping, and other services to the fitness instructor who developed and marketed the Billy Blanks Tae Bo exercise program both have been sentenced to 33 months in federal prison for stealing more than $1.1 million from a company operated by Billy Blanks and Gayle Blanks.
Rhenee Sharmell Foster, 46, and Demetria Foster Gutierrez, 52, both of Palos Verdes Estates, were sentenced Monday afternoon by United States District Judge Gary A. Feess. In addition to the 33-month prison terms, Judge Feess ordered the women to pay $1,119,000 in restitution and to not be employed in any capacity in which they would have management or control of their employers’ funds for a three year period after their release from prison.
Foster and Gutierrez both pleaded guilty last year to bank fraud and fraudulently using an access device issued to another person.
From March 2007 through March 2010, Foster and Gutierrez made unauthorized withdrawals from the bank account of the Blanks’ company, BG Star Productions, on more than 70 occasions. The Blanks hired Foster and Gutierrez in 2004 and had given them access to the BG Star Productions bank account so they could pay the Blanks’ personal and company bills. Foster and Gutierrez used this access to secretly withdraw and transfer funds from the account to pay off more than $1 million in charges that Foster and Gutierrez had incurred on their own American Express cards. Foster and Gutierrez concealed their fraud scheme from the Blanks by providing financial summaries that falsely described defendants’ unauthorized withdrawals as payments for loans and expenses incurred by the Blanks that were, in fact, fictitious. The stolen funds were used by Foster and Gutierrez to pay for, among other things, expensive clothing, vacations, and down payments on several Range Rovers.
The case against Foster and Gutierrez was investigated by the United States Secret Service, Special Agent Bryan Vandenberg.
CONTACT: Assistant United States Attorney Richard E. Robinson
Senior Litigation Counsel, Major Frauds Section
Release No. 12-009