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Facebook, Nike DEI Manager Sentenced to 5 Years in Prison

Robin L Marshall/Getty Images

A former diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) manager for Nike and Facebook will spend the next 5 years in prison.

US Attorney Ryan K. Buchanan accused Barbara Furlow-Smiles, 38, of stealing $5 million from Facebook to “fund a luxury lifestyle in California, Georgia, and Oregon.”

“Furlow-Smiles shamelessly violated her position of trust as a DEI executive at Facebook to steal millions from the company utilizing a scheme involving fraudulent vendors, fake invoices, and cash kickbacks,” Buchanan said.

A judge sentenced Furlow-Smiles to serve five years and three months in a federal prison. Additionally, she was ordered to serve three years of supervised release.

Facebook hired Furlow-Smiles as Lead Strategist, Global Head of Employee Resource Groups and Diversity Engagement from January 2017 to September 2021.

The social networking giant terminated Furlow-Smiles after discovering $4.9 million was diverted in fake expense reports.

Furlow-Smiles approved fake invoices from vendors she had personal connections with. The “vendors” included her friends, relatives, nannies and babysitters, a hair stylist, and even her university tutor.

Once Facebook paid the vendors, she instructed her friends and family to kickback some of the money they received.

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After losing her job at Facebook, Nike hired her as a diversity, equity and inclusion leader. According to the feds, she promptly stole over $120,000 from Nike.

“She carelessly continued her fraudulent schemes at Nike, thinking she was untouchable. As a result, she not only threw away a lucrative career, but will serve time behind bars for her excessive greed,” FBI Special Agent Keri Farley said.




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