March 26, 2012 10:00am PT by Eriq Gardner
Two Men Charged in Scheme to Defraud Lionsgate
After a criminal probe by the FBI, U.S. prosecutors have charged Roccio Cuccia and Larry Collins with wire fraud and other illegal transactions in an alleged scheme to defraud Hunger Games studio Lionsgate.
According to the grand jury indictment, Cuccia started working as a senior buyer at Lionsgate in 2006 and was responsible for securing cardboard advertising cases called "corrugates" for the studio. The products were used at retail stores to advertise DVD and Blu Ray discs.
Law enforcement authorities say that after an order for corrugates came from Lionsgate's sales and marketing department, Cuccia would create a matching purchase order and would access the studio's computer system to fraudulently inflate the order.
It was the alleged job of Collins to to generate invoices and to collect money from a third party, a percentage of which he purportedly kicked back to Cuccia.
The scheme is said to have caused losses totaling approximately $2,064.000.
The FBI conducted the investigation with the IRS and the Santa Monica Police Department, along with cooperation from Lionsgate. The defendants, who couldn't be contacted, face more than 200 years in prison if convicted. The two were also reportedly out on bond after a hearing in a federal court on Friday.