A former MillerCoors vice president and seven others face federal charges that they stole $7 million from the brewer to live their own version of the Miller High Life: using the cash to pay for hunting outings and golf trips and to buy stakes in a hotel and arena football team.
David Colletti, who oversaw marking and promotions for Chicago-based MillerCoors, used a phony-invoice scheme to defraud the joint venture of Molson Coors Brewing Co. and SABMiller, prosecutors said. He allegedly approved inflated invoices and bills for outside events that never took place and then pocketed kickbacks from promoters, who were also charged in a federal indictment unsealed Wednesday in Chicago.
"All along, we've sought justice for the millions of dollars stolen from our company as these actions are intolerable and inexcusable," MillerCoors said in a statement.
MillerCoors sued Colletti and the others in a Milwaukee court last year after the alleged decade-long embezzlement came to light. He was fired in 2013, according to court papers. In March, he sued the company's pension plan in Chicago, claiming it failed to pay him accrued benefits.
"We are now in the process of working through all three cases," Colletti's lawyer, Gene Murphy of Chicago, said in
a phone interview.
The invoices sought payments for non-existent food-and-beer pairings and promotions at casinos, hotels and flea markets, Chicago U.S. Attorney Zachary Fardon said in a statement. The group used the money for overseas golf trips and investments in a bar and hotel and an indoor football team that isn't identified, according to the statement.
The defendants face as long as 20 years in prison on mail fraud and wire fraud charges. A court date hasn't yet been scheduled.