By Nate Raymond
BOSTON (Reuters) - A former accountant at Gottex Fund Management Holdings Ltd was sentenced on Wednesday to more than four years in a U.S. prison for engaging in a multi-year scheme to steal nearly $3.56 million from the Swiss hedge fund firm.
Gary Tiffany, 33, was sentenced to 51 months by U.S. District Judge Mark Wolf in Boston after pleading guilty in October to charges of wire fraud and money laundering stemming from his theft of funds from the company, which is now called LumX Group Ltd.
Wolf rejected a defense lawyer's request for a prison term of just 2-1/2 years, saying Tiffany misused his position for more than four years to engage in a fraud that allowed him to buy Rolex watches and drive a Porsche.
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"This is a very serious crime," Wolf said. "You stole a lot of money and you stole it over a number of years."
The judge also ordered Tiffany to pay $3.45 million in restitution to the company and insurers who already covered some of its losses. In court, Tiffany apologized for his conduct.
"I am genuinely ashamed of what I did," he said.
Prosecutors said Tiffany joined the company in June 2010 as an accounting associate and acted as its main bookkeeper and as the office manager for its New York and Boston offices.
According to court papers, from April 2011 through November 2015, Tiffany wired funds from the company's accounts to his own and forged checks in order to illegally obtain $3.56 million.
He concealed the scheme by making false entries in the company's accounting system and by manipulating its bank statements to remove references to wire transfers he made into his own personal accounts, prosecutors said.
Tiffany's theft was only discovered after he was laid off in mid-2015 amid a company downsizing, when his replacement reviewed the company's bank statements, according to charging papers.
In an email to his former supervisor in London on Nov. 17, 2015, Tiffany said he "made terrible mistakes and choices in my life" and that he felt guilt and shame for his choices, according to a criminal complaint.
The case is U.S. v. Tiffany, U.S. District Court, District of Massachusetts, No. 16-cr-10269.
(Reporting by Nate Raymond in Boston; Editing by David Gregorio)