Life Changing Experience

An addiction to prescription opiates led former CitiFinancial district manager Julie Phillips to embezzle close to $100,000 from the mortgage broker in 2009, she told U.S. District Judge William Sessions as she wiped away tears during her sentencing hearing Monday afternoon in Burlington

“Why did you do it?” Sessions asked Phillips. “You had a position of such authority that you had 33 employees working under you at eight institutions and a salary that put you upwards of $200,000 at one point.”

“I don’t have a good excuse, other than I let my addiction take over me,” Phillips answered.

“How did it start?” Sessions probed. Phillips said she started using the pills following a surgery, and things then veered out of control.“It just got worse,” she said. “It’s something I’m going to have to live with for the rest of my life.”

She then diverted the money to her own use or to “other persons of her choosing.” Some of the money was then used to buy an undisclosed amount of oxycodone pills without a prescription, the U.S. attorney’s sentencing memorandum said.

Phillips, who was indicted on a single bank fraud charge in March, did not contest the embezzlement charge and agreed to plead guilty to the charge in June. Sessions sentenced her to a year and a day in jail and ordered her to begin serving her prison term Jan. 2.

Her lawyer, Peter Langrock, had appealed to Sessions not to punish Phillips too harshly, saying Phillips addressed her addiction at a drug rehabilitation center and has a 2-year-old daughter at home. Phillips’ estranged husband, Andrew Phillips, has given custody of the child to her and was said in court papers to be serving a jail sentence.

“This has been a life-changing experience for her,” Langrock told Sessions.