Former QVC Director Pleads Guilty To Million-Dollar Fraud Scheme Involving Hollywood PR Agency And NYC Production Company
PHILADELPHIA – James D. Falkowski, a/k/a “Jamie Falkowski,” 42, of Buffalo, New York, pleaded guilty on March 20, 2018 in federal court to criminal charges for which he was indicted including eleven counts of wire fraud, and one count of conspiracy, announced United States Attorney Louis D. Lappen.
Falkowski pleaded guilty to operating a multi-faceted fraud scheme while working as a director at QVC, Inc., an American cable, satellite and broadcast television network and multinational corporation specializing in televised and internet home shopping based in West Chester, Pennsylvania. Falkowski – a QVC Director from 2008 until his termination in 2013 – was responsible for enhancing QVC’s brand and reputation in the entertainment and fashion industries. Falkowski used his position at QVC to embezzle and fraudulently obtain from QVC over $1,000,000 worth of money, goods and services, all without QVC’s knowledge or approval, including hundreds of thousands of dollars of first-class travel, luxury hotel and resort stays, spa treatments, upscale restaurants, luxury clothing, luxury accessories, and personal medical treatments such as botox treatment. To hide his actions from QVC, Falkowski created fake invoices purporting to be from The Four Seasons Hotels, luxury car service companies, and other vendors in order to deceive QVC into paying for Falkowski’s fraud. Falkowski also enlisted the assistance of two QVC vendors to help him defraud QVC: those two vendors – including Los Angeles-based public relations agency “The Steinberg Group,” doing business as “dOMAIN,” and a New York City-based production management company – agreed to submit to QVC fraudulently altered invoices and bills to hide Falkowski’s embezzlement.
Falkowski also pleaded guilty to crimes involving fraudulently causing QVC to pay over $200,000 in private luxury chauffeur rides for himself and his associates, approximately $70,000 in payments to his personal creditors – including by causing QVC to pay more than $28,000 for a coffee table and credenza table for Falkowski’s Philadelphia apartment – as well as $59,500 in gift cards from American Express, Tom Ford, and Barney’s New York that Falkowski claimed were for distribution to talent, but which he used for himself.
Falkowski also pleaded guilty to participating in illegal kickback deals with two separate QVC vendors – both of whom Falkowksi had caused QVC to hire, and both of whose relationships with QVC Falkowski controlled. First, Falkowski caused QVC to hire The Steinberg Group, doing business as dOMAIN; Falkowski thereafter instructed The Steinberg Group’s leadership to become a QVC “vendor representative” and earn royalties from QVC. Falkowski then covertly assisted The Steinberg Group’s leadership in negotiating against QVC by providing The Steinberg Group with QVC’s confidential, proprietary contractual information, which enabled The Steinberg Group to illicitly negotiate for – and fraudulently obtain – a larger royalty percentage over a longer period of time from QVC. In return for his fraudulent assistance, The Steinberg Group secretly cut Falkowski into their deal, agreeing to pay Falkowski a kickback of fifty percent (50%) on all royalty payments received from QVC. Falkowski and The Steinberg Group’s leadership also secretly entered into a separate kickback deal relating to products sold by a QVC competitor – all while Falkowski was an executive at QVC. Ultimately, The Steinberg Group/dOMAIN and Falkowski brought in $312,488.32 pursuant to their fraudulent kickback deal. After Falkowski was terminated by QVC in December 2013, Falkowski sent an email to The Steinberg Group’s leadership, stating: “Let’s be clear . . . You have a better deal than any other rep because of me solely. [W]e do not have any contract between us of our deal JUST [The Steinberg Group’s/dOMAIN’s President’s] word that we split things 50/50 always. This was because of the complications while I was at QVC.” Separately, also entered into a fraudulent kickback arrangement with the New York City-based production management company, pursuant to which he instructed the company’s leadership to become a QVC vendor representative, and in turn was secretly cut into that deal as a one-third (33%) partner. Falkowski and the New York City-based production management company brought in $314,768.92 pursuant to their fraudulent kickback arrangement.
The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney James Petkun.
Sentencing was set for July 10, 2018, before U.S. District Judge Michael M. Baylson.