Former escort gets 53 months in fraud case

Crystal Lundberg’s brazen spending spree began four years ago, after a high-ranking formerly married financial executive, Scott Kennedy, let Lundberg and her daughters move in with him.

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Dirksen Federal Courthouse

A former escort implicated in a fraudulent spending spree has been sentenced to 53 months in prison.

Sun-Times file photo

Seven months ago, the former financial executive who once turned his corporate credit card over to an escort he’d met online admitted he’d fallen in love with her — even though she entangled him in a $5.79 million fraud.

On Monday, just as a judge was about to send her to prison, that woman threw the former executive under the bus.

Interrupting U.S. District Judge Elaine Bucklo as she was about to rule, Crystal Lundberg noted that she had almost always asked Scott Kennedy permission before making a purchase on his corporate card. She said he told her, “anything you’d like.” 

Bucklo soon cut her off. The judge told her, “the jury’s reached its conclusion.” And then, she sentenced Lundberg, 33, to more than four years in federal prison for the massive fraud against Nemera, a drug device company with a plant in Buffalo Grove.

Moments earlier, Lundberg had given an emotional explanation for her stunning and brazen scheme, explaining that she’d hoped to give her children a better life — one filled with private schools and ballet and violin classes. Getting caught actually changed her life for the better, she said, because she is now legitimately employed. 

She also made clear she wants to remain a part of her children’s lives after her own childhood had been marred by drug addiction, sexual abuse and mental illness, according to her defense attorney. 

“I am definitely changed mentally, emotionally,” Lundberg said. “And I know I can’t take back what I’ve done.”

When she was finished, Bucklo noted that Lundberg had not previously shown “any remorse at all” for a 15-month scheme that involved exotic vacations, jewelry, plastic surgery, designer apparel and thousands of transactions. The judge said “there is simply no way” she could “push all of that aside” in favor of Lundberg’s children. But that’s when Lundberg interrupted to talk about Kennedy. 

She said she had information that had not been entered “into evidence.”

Kennedy became the star witness at Lundberg’s trial earlier this year, which ended with Lundberg’s conviction on five counts of wire fraud. Back in 2015, Kennedy was a high-ranking, formerly married financial executive. He repeatedly hired Lundberg as an escort. And then, he let Lundberg and her daughters move in with him.

His personal credit card balances soon began to soar. Then, he said Lundberg asked if she could use his corporate credit card from Nemera to give her daughters a big Christmas. He said he gave in. 

“I physically handed it to her and told her we have to pay this back,” Kennedy told the jury. He explained, “I was trying to be a provider for my family.”

The couple then went on a massive spree that prosecutors said included $970,000 spent on travel and transportation, $606,000 on clothing and accessories and $585,000 for a planned medical spa, adding up to $5.79 million in all. Assistant U.S. Attorney Kathryn Malizia said Lundberg was behind the “overwhelming majority” of the purchases.

Glenn Jazwiec, Lundberg’s defense attorney, argued that, “Mr. Kennedy was the one who drove this machine, not Ms. Lundberg.” When Nemera fired him in 2017, Kennedy was the company’s highest-ranking financial executive. He has pleaded guilty to wire fraud and is awaiting sentencing.

Malizia said Lundberg lied to Kennedy about her ability to pay the money back. In a court memo, she also said Lundberg altered Kennedy’s tax and payroll records to make it look like she was the owner of a profitable business.

The prosecutor called it all “knowing, blatant and wholly inexcusable.” 

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