MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WREG) — An Olive Branch, Mississippi man who was an executive at home goods retailer Williams Sonoma, Inc. and three others were indicted on charges in two alleged multi-million dollar fraud schemes.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California announced Eric Marsiglia of Olive Branch, Mississippi, Kourous Mirmehdi, Augusto Alizo, and Michael Podhurst face multiple charges, including conspiracy, wire fraud, money laundering, and others for their roles in the fraud schemes involving kickbacks and diversion of millions of dollars of rebates belonging to Williams Sonoma, Inc.
Marsiglia was the company’s Vice President of Engineering, Projects, Planning, Facilities, and Real Estate, making him responsible for identifying commercial real estate opportunities for the company.
One scheme was a conspiracy to divert rebates from commercial real estate brokers that should have gone to the company. However, the rebates were diverted to accounts controlled by Marsiglia.
Mirmehdi of Irvin, California, and Alizo of Weston, Florida, were allegedly paid with part of the diverted funds. Court documents state the trio allegedly diverted and misappropriated approximately $5.9 million in broker commission rebates owed to WSI.
Another scheme involved the payment of kickbacks in exchange for Marsiglia directing business to companies controlled by Podhurst of Union, New Jersey.
Williams Sonoma, Inc. awarded companies connected to Podhurst more than $48 million in contracts for work done at warehouses around the country. Marsiglia and Podhurst arranged for more than $12 million in kickbacks to be paid to Marsiglia’s company, REM Group.
Marsiglia and Alizo of Weston, Florida, were arrested Wednesday in Mississippi and Florida respectively. Marsiglia also appeared in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi Wednesday morning.
“This investigation and today’s arrests are a result of the hard work and dedication of IRS Criminal Investigation and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Northern District of California. Our agents and prosecutors pursued a group of individuals, across state lines, who took advantage of members of our community for greed and personal enrichment,” said Special Agent in Charge Darren Lian of IRS Criminal Investigation’s Oakland Field Office. “CI special agents are determined to hold those who deceive and cheat accountable for their actions.”
Williams Sonoma, Inc. operates multiple brands including Williams Sonoma, Pottery Barn, and West Elm. A Williams Sonoma Distribution Center is located in Olive Branch, Mississippi.