Getting Creative With Expense Reports

     WHEATON, Ill. (CN) – A religious book publisher claims in court that its former manager defrauded it of $1.7 million with phony reimbursement requests.
     Bryan Erickson allegedly worked as marketing services manager for Tyndale House Publishers at its Carol Stream, Ill., headquarters from 1992 to 2009.
     The company says it discovered Erickson’s fraud by conducting a “forensic accounting.”
     “From at least July 26, 2006 to March 3, 2009, Erickson paid for business expenses using a personal credit card,” according to the complaint in the 18th Judicial Circuit Court of Du Page County.
     “He then altered the actual invoices to greater amounts and submitted them for reimbursement by Tyndale,” Tyndale adds. “The overpayments under this scheme totaled at least $243,613.”
     Erickson then took another $223,000 by submitting duplicate charges “for Tyndale’s convention booth fabric graphics and convention graphics such as banners or graphics mounted to foam board,” the publisher says.
     Erickson also had an alleged accomplice in Michael Amato, according to the complaint.
     From September 1997 to April 2001, Erickson submitted $671,000 in phony charges from Amato’s company Amico International, and Tyndale House paid the submissions, according to the complaint.
     Gamon International, which employed Amato as its vice president, also “billed Tyndale for the full cost of services provided, while arranging, through its agent, Amato, and Erickson for separate, additional billings to Tyndale for the same work, which additional billings Amato and Erickson then shared,” the complaint states. “These additional billings in the period September 1997 to April 2002, which Tyndale paid, totaled at least $537,270.21.”
     Tyndale says it also spent $61,000 paying for the forensic accounting that uncovered the fraud.
     All told, Erickson and Amico allegedly drained $1.7 million from Tyndale’s coffers.
     Tyndale House seeks punitive damages for conversion and fraud. It is represented by John Westra with Johnson Westra Brodcker Whittaker & Newitt in Carol Stream, Ill.

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