California man pleads guilty to defrauding local business out of $10 million

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Columbus, Ohio – In the United States District Court of California today, he pleaded guilty to embezzling more than $10.2 million from his employer and violating a court order.

Brinson Caleb Silver, 43, Culver City, Calif., pleaded guilty to one count each of wire fraud and contempt of court. As part of the guilty plea, Silver agreed to pay more than $10.2 million in restitution.

According to court documents, Silver owns Root Inc., an online auto insurance company. He was the Chief Marketing Officer. From November 2021 to November 2022, Silver entered into contracts with four vendors for marketing services. Silver instructed the sellers to send their partial contracts to bank accounts in the names of businesses that Silver owned and controlled. Those transferred payments totaled more than $10.2 million.

Silver used the stolen millions to buy a $1.4 million yacht, a Mercedes-Benz G550 worth about $165,000, an amphibious airplane, luxury watches and other items.

As a result of his fraudulent practices, in February 2023, Root sued Silver. The court’s civil suit was limited to transactions of no more than $5,000. Silver went to trial in court related to the civil suit, unsuccessfully, and spent a lot of money traveling the world.

His spending in February and March 2023 violated court orders, including $20,000 for plastic surgery, more than $25,000 to Indonesian businesses (including $8,000 at a luxury resort in Bali) and money spent in Indonesia, and more than $88,000 to individuals through PayPal. Silver reported to the court information about his $1.8 million home in California. At this point, Silver made two phone calls to an “international relocation” company, asking for citizenship in a country that would not extradite him to the United States, and for a foreign bank account that the United States could not freeze.

Silver was arrested and charged with the crime in June 2023. The parties involved in his case have recommended that he be sentenced to 24 to 51 months in prison in addition to $10.2 million in restitution.

Kenneth L. Parker, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio; and J. William Rivers, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Cincinnati Division; United States District Judge Edmund A. Sargus, Jr. Assistant United States Attorneys Peter K. Glenn-Applegate and David J. Twombly announced his guilty plea today to represent the United States in this case.

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