MARTINEZ — A highly paid contractor for the Contra Costa County Health Plan was indicted last month on 11 felony counts of fraud and tax evasion after an IRS investigation determined she was not who she said she was.
Sonja Emery, 52, was indicted April 10 in Michigan’s Eastern District Court on 11 counts for mail fraud, wire fraud, engaging in a corrupt endeavor to obstruct the IRS and tax evasion.
Emery, who is also known as Sonja Robinson in her contract with the Contra Costa County Health Plan, which has 186,000 members, pulled nearly $2.5 million from 2006 to 2017 in jobs she fraudulently obtained as a director of medical services, clinical director and hospital consultant in seven different states.
Contra Costa County first learned of the allegations against Emery on Tuesday and terminated her contract  Friday.
A special agent with the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration wrote in a court affidavit: “In the past decade, Emery has repeatedly falsified credentials and lied to obtain lucrative employment with at least eight employers… The scope and geographic and temporal duration of Emery’s fraud speak volumes of her resiliency and ingenuity.”
According to the affidavit, Emery falsely claimed she had a nursing degree from New York University and a bachelor’s, master’s in health administration and business and Ph.D. degrees from Emory University.
The investigator reported that neither Emory nor New York University could find records for Emery. The only college education that could be traced to Emery was two credits in speed reading at Westchester Community College.
In 2014, Emery was hired as a contractor through a specialty recruiter to provide consultation and technical assistance to the Contra Costa County Health Plan. A year later she was hired as an independent contractor and worked closely with the health plan’s chief medical director, chief executive officer and assistant directors to ensure that the plan’s review, authorization and referral information was accurate and met state health department requirements.
She was paid approximately $960,000 from the health plan’s Enterprise Fund II, which is financed through members’ premiums.
Contra Costa and seven other employers listed in court documents as having been duped by Emery apparently weren’t the only ones.
Federal prosecutors also found that four outstanding bench warrants had been issued for Emery’s arrest. In two cases — in Georgia’s Gwinnett and Cherokee counties — Emery convinced an assistant district attorney, a sheriff’s department and judges to drop criminal cases against her by using allegedly fraudulent letters from unknown doctors that claimed she underwent brain tumor surgery or was being treated for cancer.
“This is not a case where Emery simply used other people’s names and personal identifying information in the commission of her frauds. In the execution of her fraud, Emery repeatedly generated false documents including fake resumes, credit reports, and background reports to paper her falsities,” prosecutors wrote in an attempt to prevent the U.S. District Court of Northern California from releasing Emery on bail in the Contra Costa case.
Emery nevertheless was released on a $50,000 bond  without a detention hearing. Her attorney, Joyce Leavitt of the federal public defender’s office, argued that two outstanding warrants for her arrest were actually for a different person. Leavitt also contended Emery was receiving cancer treatment in New York. It is unclear whether these statements are accurate.
It was ultimately tax evasion that caught up with Emery, who had successfully evaded the IRS for six years, a special investigator wrote, adding that she was not paying taxes on the money she earned at the Contra Costa County Health Plan.
Emery could not be reached for comment.