Former Vice-President And Seven Others Charged In Scheme To Defraud Beer Company Of Over $7 Million
CHICAGO — A former Vice-President of a brewing company was charged in a twenty count indictment yesterday along with seven co-defendants, as a result of an alleged scheme to defraud the company of at least $7 million by submitting false estimates and invoices that billed for fictitious promotional and marketing events. DAVID COLLETTI, 58, of Chicago, was charged in a federal grand jury indictment with wire fraud along with seven other co-defendants; RODERICK GROETZINGER, 61, of North Carolina, ANDREW VALLOZZI, 53, of Florida, JAMES RITTENBERG, 72, of Chicago, SCOTT DARST, 68, of Las Vegas, THOMAS LONGHI, 57, of Florida, FRANCIS BUONAURO Jr., 72, of Florida, and MARYANN ROZENBERG, 57, of Wisconsin. Defendants RITTENBERG and DARST were also charged with mail fraud. All eight defendants will be arraigned at a date determined by U.S. District Court.
The indictment alleges that COLLETTI, as a Vice-President, oversaw the marketing, promotion, and sale of beer for the victim company, which hired third-party vendors to organize and hold events and promotions designed to market the company’s beer. According to the indictment, GROETZINGER, VALLOZZI, RITTENBERG, DARST, LONGHI, BUONARO, and ROZENBERG controlled entities which claimed to provide third-party vendor services to the victim company during the course of the alleged scheme. The entities included Beverage Industry Marketing Services, Rave Media, Events Marketing Network LLC, AVA Advertising, Inc., AVA Marketing and Communications, LLC, Food and Beverage Network, Inc., Prime Promotions, Inc., P&D Marketing, Inc., Longhi Golf Operations, F&B Marketing, and Golden Logistics.
The indictment alleges that during COLLETTI’s tenure at the company, he worked with GROETZINGER, VALLOZZI, RITTENBERG, DARST, LONGHI, BUONARO, and ROZENBERG to submit false estimates and invoices in the name of entities which falsely billed the company for fictitious promotional events and for events at inflated prices. The estimates and invoices misrepresented the date, location, cost and type of events that were supposedly being held to market the company’s products. The fictitious events included supposed food and beer pairings, trainings, and promotions for certain customer accounts, held at casinos, hotels, and flea markets.
The indictment alleges that COLLETTI oversaw the approval of a number of these false invoices for payment and the company paid in excess of $7 million to the defendants’ entities. Subsequently, some of the defendants arranged for COLLETTI to receive a portion of the payments. According to the indictment, the defendants used the victim company’s money, for among other things, defendants’ personal expenses, collectible firearms, international golf trips, hunting trips, investments in a hotel and bar, and an arena football team.
The indictment seeks forfeiture of at least $7 million.
The indictment was announced by Zachary T. Fardon, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, and Robert J. Holley, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The government is being represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jessica Romero and Jennie Levin.
Each count of mail or wire fraud carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, or an alternate fine of twice the loss or twice the gain, whichever is greater, and restitution is mandatory. If convicted, the Court must impose a reasonable sentence under federal sentencing statutes and the advisory United States Sentencing Guidelines.
The public is reminded that an indictment contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent and are entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.