Former MillerCoors exec admits guilt in scheme to defraud company

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A former MillerCoors executive has pleaded guilty to fraud in a scheme to steal from the company. | Google Streetview image

A former MillerCoors executive has pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud for his part in a scheme to steal millions from the company.

David Colletti, a former vice president of MillerCoors, helped tap the beer company for more than $8.6 million between 2003 and 2013 by filing estimates and invoices for promotional events that never happened, or by inflating the prices of ones that did, prosecutors have said.

Colletti faces up to 20 years in prison, but his sentence would likely fall between eight and 10 years in prison, and he could even be sentenced to closer to five years if he keeps a promise to cooperate with the government.

His make-believe promotional events included food and beer pairings and a 100-player golf tournament, according to the feds. He made up promotions that supposedly took place at casinos, hotels and flea markets.

After Colletti admitted his crime in front of U.S. District Judge Jorge Alonso, defense attorney Eugene Murphy called Colletti’s plea the beginning of a process, “not the end.”

MillerCoors, which was not mentioned by name in the indictment, filed a lawsuit against Colletti in August 2014 in Milwaukee. Colletti then sued MillerCoors last year for deciding — before Colletti’s indictment — to withhold his retirement benefits because there was “overwhelming evidence that crimes were committed.” His lawsuit was ultimately successful.

Finally, Colletti was indicted along with seven others in May 2015, and prosecutors said the group used the proceeds of the fraud to pay for collectible firearms, international golf trips, hunting trips, hotel and bar investments and “an arena football team.” Colletti also used a company known as DAC Management to collect and hide the money, according to his plea agreement.

Meanwhile, the feds said last year that Colletti had been “cooperating with the government in hopes that the government will recommend a reduced sentence.” That disclosure appeared in a search warrant application filed May 1, 2015 — days before Colletti’s indictment. It was unsealed in September.

It sought permission to review the emails of two Colletti co-defendants: James Rittenberg and Scott Darst. Both are expected to appear in court Thursday for a status hearing. Two others, Francis Buonauro Jr. and Maryann Rozenberg, are expected to plead guilty Thursday.

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