My Italian villa…

June 7, 2006

Back in March, I took two weeks off and spent some time in Tuscany and Umbria where I began to fantasize about buying the fabulous house that I had rented for a very reasonable price just because it was off-season. And while I’ve turned the vista into a screen-saver for my laptop, I knew it was just another unaffordable dream.

Too bad we can’t say the same thing about Joseph Micatrotto, the former CEO of Buca (BUCA), who according to this release from the SEC, successfully passed off the cost of his Italian villa, renovations to the villa, and airline tickets to Italy onto the company. There were also bills for dog kenneling, renovations to three other homes that Micatrotto owned, large chunks of money removed from an ATM, and even a groom’s dinner for his son, that were passed onto shareholders. Luckily, the SEC caught up with him and Micatrotto will have to pay a $565K fine and is barred from serving as a corporate officer again. The company’s former CFO, Greg Gadel was part of the scheme, and, according to the release, "receivied $96,630 in undisclosed compensation, including reimbursements for family vacations and visits to strip clubs" — two activities that we’re hoping were mutually exclusive.

Indeed, the only thing that isn’t funny about this whole thing is Buca’s chart. But clearly, Mssrs. Micatrotto and Gadel had lots of other things to occupy their attention. It also makes one wonder about how many other small, under-the-radar companies are expensing similar things, in the hopes that regulators, journalists, and their investors, don’t have the time or ability to catch the fleecing of a public company.
 

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