The FBI has arrested two California men on charges of defrauding Lionsgate Entertainment of more than $2 million in a kickback scheme that bought one of them a Mercedes, the bureau said Saturday.Roccio James Cuccia, 31 of Downey, worked at Lionsgate as a senior buyer.
He and Larry D. Collins, of Northridge, had a kickback scheme that cheated the studio out of more than $2 million.
Cuccia, who joined Lionsgate in 2006, bought cardboard advertising for Lionsgate DVD and Blu rays at retail stores. The FBI says Cuccia used Collins as a vendor, supplying display cases to retail stores for five years.
In an indictment filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles on Thursday, federal prosecutors say that after the Lionsgate marketing department asked for display cases, Cuccia would go into the company’s computer system and change the number of cases requested.
He would then tell Collins, who would generate phony invoices, according to the indictment.
Read the indictment here
Lionsgate paid the inflated purchase orders to a third party, who gave much of that money to Collins, the FBI says.
“Collins would kick back a portion of these funds to … Cuccia by wiring money into … Cuccia’s bank account,” the indictment says. “Cuccia and Collins caused losses totalling approximately $2,064,000.”
The FBI says Cuccia used part of the money to buy a 2007 Toyota Camry Hybrid and a 2006 Mercedes Benz R350. Federal agents seized both cars on Friday.
The indictment also accuses Cuccia of failing to report the income on his 2006 and 2007 income tax statements.
Cuccia and Collins each are charged with 10 counts of wire fraud. Cuccia is also charged with two counts of “conducting a monetary transaction in criminally derived property of a value greater than $10,000,” and two counts of filing false tax returns.
The two appeared before a U.S. magistrate in federal court in Los Angeles Friday and were released on bond.
If convicted, Cuccia faces up to 226 years in prison and Collins faces up to 200 years in federal prison.
The FBI, IRS and Santa Monica Police Department conducted the investigation with the cooperation of Lionsgate.
The arrest came on the same day that Lionsgate released its biggest movie ever, “The Hunger Games.”
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