Men Indicted For Allegedly Defrauding Lions Gate Entertainment

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on March 24, 2012 released the following:

“LOS ANGELES—Two men were arrested Friday by special agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation after being indicted for their roles in a $2 million kickback scheme involving the Santa Monica-based film and distribution company Lions Gate Entertainment (Lionsgate), announced André Birotte, Jr., United States Attorney for the Central District of California; Steven Martinez, the Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office; and Leslie P. DeMarco, Special Agent in Charge of IRS Criminal Investigation in Los Angeles.

Roccio James Cuccia, 31, of Downey; and Larry D. Collins, 50, of Northridge, were charged in a 14-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury in Los Angeles on Thursday, March 22, 2012. The indictment includes allegations of wire fraud, money laundering, and tax evasion.

According to the indictment, Cuccia started working as a senior buyer at Lionsgate in January 2006 and was responsible for acquiring cardboard advertising used to display Lionsgate DVDs and Blu-ray Discs at retail stores. Cuccia is alleged to have used Collins as a vendor to supply the display cases to retail stores from 2006 through 2011.

Cuccia and Collins allegedly devised a scheme whereby Lionsgate was overbilled for the number of display cases provided by Collins. The indictment alleges that by accessing Lionsgate’s computer system, Cuccia would inflate the number of previously approved display cases ordered from Collins by Lionsgate. Collins would then generate fraudulent invoices for the inflated purchase orders, the indictment alleges.

Lionsgate sent payment for the inflated purchase orders to a third party, who would then wire a substantial percentage of the Lionsgate funds to Collins. The indictment alleges that Collins would then wire a portion of these funds to Cuccia’s bank account. The indictment alleges that Cuccia and Collins caused losses to Lionsgate totaling approximately $2,064,000.

The indictment lists 10 wire transfers totaling over $745,000, which represents funds received by Collins as part of the scheme, a portion of which were then wired to Cuccia. Cuccia is alleged to have used part of the funds to purchase a 2007 Toyota Camry Hybrid and a 2006 Mercedes Benz R350, both of which were seized on Friday by federal agents. The indictment further alleges that Cuccia failed to report his portion of the fraudulently received funds as income on his 2006 and 2007 federal tax returns.

Cuccia and Collins are each charged with 10 counts of wire fraud. In addition, Cuccia is charged with two counts of conducting a monetary transaction in criminally derived property of a value greater than $10,000 and two counts of subscribing to false tax returns.

Cuccia and Collins had an initial appearance before a federal magistrate in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles Friday afternoon and were granted bond.

If convicted of all charges alleged in the indictment, Cuccia faces a statutory maximum sentence of 226 years in federal prison, and Collins faces 200 years in federal prison.

This investigation was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, IRS-Criminal Investigation, and the Santa Monica Police Department. Lions Gate Entertainment cooperated with the investigation.

An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty in court.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
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The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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