Invoices, Lies & Four Trips to The Pokey
Ex-Grey Executive Vice President Mitchell Mosallem, Panaccione’s boss, is also named as co-conspirator. And now, the juicy plot, courtesy of the court papers on the case against Casas:
Casas was primarily responsible for servicing Grey Advertising of Manhattan, which provides advertising, marketing, public relations and media services. With 12,000 employees in 90 countries, it is one of the largest ad agencies in the known universe. One of Grey’s customers was Brown & Williamson Tobacco (B&W), best known for its line of smokes, including Kool, Lucky Strike and Pall Mall.
Color Wheel supplied graphic services to Grey, including retouching. Grey used these services in the course of developing advertising and marketing campaigns. Mosallem was responsible for establishing procedures for the selection and supervision of graphics suppliers, including the initial review and authorization of their bills for payment.
Enter B&W. To ensure that it received the best value on goods and services from third-party providers working with Grey, B&W required Grey to obtain at least three competitive bids for any single contract exceeding $25,000.
Casas submitted bids for Color Wheel to Grey for retouching work, with the understanding that Color Wheel would be awarded all of the B&W contracts. Casas submitted bids with inflated prices, given that: 1. he knew Color Wheel would receive the retouching contract, 2. the inflated prices had been agreed upon beforehand and 3. a number of co-conspirators submitted intentionally high non-competitive bids. On the third count, the bogus bids would make it appear that B&W’s agency, Grey, had received competition for its contracts, which was not the case. In exchange for their submission of phony high bids, these actual graphics suppliers could bid and win contracts with Grey to do work for other Grey clients.
Certain line items on the invoices were inflated to allow Color Wheel to recover three types of expenses: a. the cost of tickets to theater, sporting and cultural events for Mosallem, Panaccione, other Grey senior employees or executives and family members; b.recover the cost of printing wedding invitations, holiday cards and other personal items for the same people; and c. charges for work Color Wheel had performed on earlier jobs for other Grey clients that were not recovered due to, among other things, budget overruns.