Los Angeles Business Journal

Women Sentenced to Prison for Stealing from ‘Tae Bo’ Creator

By Deborah Crowe Thursday, January 12, 2012

Operators of a Marina Del Rey firm that provided bookkeeping and other financial services to celebrity fitness instructor Billy Blanks have been sentenced to 33 months in federal prison for stealing more than $1.1 million from the developer of the Tae Bo exercise program.

U.S. District Judge Gary Feess this week also ordered Rhenee Sharmell Foster, 46, and Demetria Foster Gutierrez, 52, both of Palos Verdes Estates, to pay more than $1.1 million in restitution. In addition, the pair is barred for three years from any job in which they would have management or control of their employers’ funds after their release from prison, according to a Thursday press release from the U.S. Attorney’s office in Los Angeles.

Foster and Gutierrez both pleaded guilty last year to bank fraud. Foster and Gutierrez admitted they made 70 unauthorized withdrawals from 2007 though 2010 from the bank account BG Star Productions, a Sherman Oaks company owned by Banks and his wife, Gayle.

The Blanks hired Foster and Gutierrez in 2004 and gave them access to BG Star’s bank account so they could pay the couple’s personal and business bills. While performing those duties, Foster and Gutierrez also withdrew and transferred funds from the account to pay off more than $1 million in personal charges they had incurred on their own American Express cards. The stolen funds were used pay for expensive clothing, vacations, and down payments on several Range Rovers, prosecutors said.

The pair concealed the fraud by providing false financial summaries that described the unauthorized withdrawals as payments for loans and expenses incurred by the Blanks.