A former QVC director whose job was to enhance the West Chester company's brand in the entertainment and fashion industries supercharged his own lifestyle by defrauding the television shopping network of more than $500,000 in luxury hotel stays, spa treatments, and vacations, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania alleged Thursday.
The 35-page indictment said James D. "Jamie" Falkowski, 42, who lived in Philadelphia when he worked for QVC from 2008 until he was fired in December 2013, executed the alleged fraud through two QVC vendors who paid Falkowski's personal expenses — including $28,000 for two custom tables for his Old City apartment — and then billed QVC.
If that wasn't enough, Falkowski, who was paid $238,800 a year when he was fired, sometimes submitted multiple bills for the same luxury hotel stays, including those at Trump Soho New York and Four Seasons Los Angeles at Beverly Hills, the indictment alleged.
In all, QVC reimbursed Falkowski $533,642 for personal expenses from 2008 through 2013. Separately, Falkowski participated in a kickback scheme involving $627,275 in royalty payments from QVC, the indictment said.
"We've just received the indictment, and we will be reviewing it carefully," said Falkowski's lawyer, Chad Curlett, of Levin & Curlett LLC, in Baltimore. "That said, Jamie Falkowski has a long, successful career as a marketing professional. He was highly regarded at QVC, and we look forward to answering the charges."
Curlett declined to say where Falkowski lives now. Federal prosecutors said his hometown is Buffalo. A December 2015 civil lawsuit filed by QVC against Falkowski, who started at QVC as director of media relations before becoming director of strategic brand initiative in 2012, said Falkowski lived in Brooklyn, N.Y.
The vendors involved in Falkowski's fraud, the Steinberg Group, of Los Angeles, and CS Global, of New York, were not charged. Howard Bruce Klein, who represents the Steinberg Group, had no comment. CS Global officials could not be reached.
QVC, whose civil complaint also named the Steinberg Group, said in a email: "At QVC, we take allegations of unethical or unlawful business conduct on the part of our employees and our business partners very seriously. In addition to conducting a thorough investigation into this matter, we have been cooperating fully with authorities."
After QVC fired Falkowski in December 2013, the Steinberg Group contacted QVC for reimbursement of expenses it had paid for Falkowski, according to the civil lawsuit. QVC determined that Falkowski had inappropriately classified personal expenses, such as more than $200,000 for chauffeur services, as business expenses.
Much of the alleged fraud occurred in Los Angeles.
For example, during a 13-day stay at the Four Seasons Los Angeles at Beverly Hills for the 2012 Oscars, Falkowski ran up a $42,485 Four Seasons bill, $18,934 for his luxury suite, and $23,551 for incidentals. Falkowski instructed the vendor who arranged the stay for Falkowski and other QVC personnel to reduce his overall bill to $17,224. The vendor, CS Global, inflated other charges on its invoice to QVC and added bogus charges to the hotel bills for celebrities who were QVC's guests to make up the difference.