Former Facebook and Nike diversity manager is sentenced to 5 years in prison for $5 million fraud

According to Buchanan, she shamelessly carried on with her fraudulent activities as a DEI leader at Nike after being fired by Facebook. During her time at Nike, she managed to embezzle a substantial amount of money from their diversity program.

According to Buchanan’s office, Furlow-Smiles, 38, used the stolen money to finance a lavish lifestyle in California, Georgia, and Oregon. The office had requested a 6½ year sentence for her.

She held the position of lead strategist and global head of employee resource groups and diversity engagement at Facebook, a subsidiary of Meta. However, it is important to note that she did not occupy the top executive role for diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts at Facebook.

During her time at Facebook, prosecutors revealed that she connected her Facebook credit cards to PayPal, Venmo, and Cash App accounts. She then proceeded to make payments to her friends, relatives, and other individuals, claiming that these transactions were for goods and services related to the company. However, it was later discovered that these goods and services were never actually delivered.

Prosecutors stated that Furlow-Smiles received the majority of the money that was given to those individuals as kickbacks.

According to prosecutors in a sentencing memo, Meta found that Furlow-Smiles initiated the scheme shortly after joining the company in 2017. The investigation revealed that she manipulated individuals who were close to her and whom she had gained the trust of, including former interns who saw her as a mentor.

Furlow-Smiles joined Nike in November 2021 and held the position of senior director of diversity, equity & inclusion until February 2023, following her departure from Facebook earlier in the year.

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Prosecutors said that during her time there, she carried out a theft scheme that was similar to the one she had previously executed at Facebook.

A resident of Marietta, Furlow-Smiles, received her sentence on Monday in Atlanta federal court. District Judge Steven Grimberg has also ordered her to compensate Facebook with $4.98 million and Nike with an additional $121,000.

According to Meta, they have worked closely with law enforcement during the investigation of Furlow-Smiles. Furlow-Smiles is required to report to prison by July 22.

According to the prosecutors’ sentencing memo, Furlow-Smiles not only embezzled money from the company but also caused Meta to suffer additional financial losses. These losses amounted to over $4.5 million, including expenses such as attorney’s fees, which were incurred as Meta had to uncover and investigate her fraudulent scheme.

According to prosecutors, Meta acknowledges that the harm caused by Furlow-Smiles’ criminal behavior goes beyond financial losses. As stated in their memo, her actions also caused distress among the employees who had close working relationships with her.

According to the prosecutor’s memo, Nike stated that Furlow-Smiles was appointed as a leader within the company and was expected to uphold the value of “Doing the Right Thing,” which is a fundamental principle at Nike. The memo further mentioned that Nike expressed their disappointment and betrayal, stating that Furlow-Smiles’ fraud not only violated their trust but also had a devastating impact on the employees who worked with her.

According to the memo, Nike expressed their disappointment with her lack of accountability or remorse.

Furlow-Smiles’ lawyer declined to provide an immediate comment.

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Unfortunately, I am unable to access or view any external sources or press releases. However, a spokesperson for Meta declined to comment on the matter when approached by CNBC.

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