Former Lionsgate Employee Charged with Defrauding Studio24 Mar, 2012 By: Erik Gruenwedel
Scheme involved falsified invoices for DVD and Blu-ray Disc retail displays
A former Lionsgate employee and another Los Angeles man have been arrested and charged by a grand jury with allegedly defrauding the minimajor of more than $2 million in a kickback scheme involving retail displays used for DVD and Blu-ray Disc movies.
In a criminal indictment filed March 22 in U.S. District of Los Angeles, defendant Roccio James Cuccia, who worked at Santa Monica, Calif.-based Lionsgate as a product display buyer from 2006 to 2011, and co-defendant Larry Collins allegedly concocted a scheme whereby Cuccia would create and obtain approval from a supervisor for falsely inflated orders of corrugated displays used by the studio at retail for new-release DVD and Blu-ray movies.
After getting supervisorial approval, Cuccia contacted Collins, who fabricated false vendor invoices and billing statements on the inflated orders. Lionsgate then paid the false statements to a third party, which would in turn wire a substantial percentage back to Collins. The defendant would then “kick back” a portion of the paid funds to Cuccia’s bank account, according to the indictment.
The supervisor was not charged or named in the indictment.
The scheme allegedly netted the defendants more than $2 million throughout a five-year period, which they used to buy a 2007 Toyota Camry Hybrid and Mercedes Benz R350 — both vehicles seized by the FBI, according to The Wrap, which first reported the case.
Cuccia and Collins are each charged with 10 counts of wire fraud and two counts of filing false tax returns, among other charges. If convicted, each defendant could face more than 200 years in prison.
The indictments come the weekend Lionsgate generated more than $214 million at the global box office (including $155 million domestically) on sci-fi teen action franchise The Hunger Games. The movie, starring Oscar-nominated Jennifer Lawrence (Winter's Bone), is the highest domestic-grossing box office movie in March.