MILWAUKEE (CN) - A MillerCoors executive set up a ring that stole more than $13.4 million from the beer company in an elaborate, 11-year scheme, the beer giant claims in court.
David Colletti, a former senior director, set up and/or worked with 15 companies to submit fraudulent invoices for services that never were rendered, according to the Aug. 28 lawsuit in Milwaukee County Court.
"Acting as the inside man, Colletti caused the invoices to be submitted and approved for payment, leading Miller Brewing and/or MillerCoors to pay the amounts stated in the invoices," the complaint states.
"To avoid detection by colleagues and subordinates at Miller Brewing and/or Miller Coors, Colletti directed the payments from an internal budget over which he had primary supervisory control, authority and accountability."
Fifteen companies and 14 people, including Colletti's wife, are listed as co-defendants/civil conspirators.
Most of the businesses Colletti used were set up as shell companies with no other purpose than to defraud MillerCoors and Miller Brewing Co., according to the complaint.
"Upon receiving payment from Miller Brewing and/or MillerCoors, the individual defendants controlling the defendant entities that issued the fraudulent invoices split the money with Colletti and used that money for purely personal uses," the lawsuit states.
Defendants Victoria and Roderick Groetzinger set up four companies and took in more than $3.4 million over the course of Colletti's career, according to the complaint.
Paul Edwards, another employee of MillerCoors, profited from the scheme alongside Colletti, the complaint states.
MillerCoors first noticed something amiss in September 2013, when an employee in its accounting department looked more closely at an invoice from one of the shell companies.
"The employee cross-checked the address listed on the invoice for Golden Logistics and discovered that it was the residence of [defendant MaryAnn] Rozenberg, a former employee of Miller Brewing and MillerCoors who had worked closely with Colletti for years, serving as the administrative support or 'admin' for Colletti's department, National On-Premise Chain Accounts," according to the complaint.
The employee reported the invoice to the company's Finance and Internal Audit department, which investigated invoices, purchase orders and vendors that originated with Colletti.
"After MillerCoors Finance and Internal Audit department began investigating and contacted vendors to confirm invoices, Colletti left work, citing health problems and reporting that he would be on an extended medical leave for an indefinite time period," the complaint states. "On November 14, 2013, MillerCoors received a call from a criminal defense attorney purporting to represent Colletti, who explained that Colletti had retained him and that further inquiries should be directed to him."
None of the defendants are assisting MillerCoors in its ongoing investigation of the scheme, the company says.
All 28 defendants are named as conspiracy defendants. Other charges include fraud, civil theft (25 defendants each), unjust enrichment (28), breach of fiduciary duty (27), and violating the Wisconsin Organized Crime Control Act (25).
MillerCoors seeks punitive damages.
It is represented by Patrick Nolan with Quarles & Brady.