Alyssa Milano has found herself in a sticky financial situation, and she says her former business manager is to blame. On Friday, the 44-year-old actress filed a $10 million lawsuit against Kenneth Hellie and his firm, Hellie, Hoffer & Co., for severe misconduct. Specifically, she claimed that Hellie forged her signature on checks, failed to pay overdue bills and taxes, and coerced her into making bad investments in a business in which he was also an investor — without disclosing the conflict of interest. (Just FYI, that’s a big no-no.)
The Charmed alum stated that Hellie’s reckless (and grossly illegal) actions left both her and her husband, talent agent David Bugliari, “millions of dollars in debt and their credit in ruins.”
According to Milano, things started to go awry when Hellie dropped the ball on overseeing a home remodeling project for the couple. Because of his bad management, she alleged, she ended up sinking $5 million into a house that is now worth no more than $3 million. (That’s not the way the math on home improvements is supposed to work.) Additionally, she said the accountants didn’t bother to notify her of Ventura County building code violations, instead letting them linger for over five years and leading to a lien and $376,950 in fines. Yikes.
Then in February 2016, she was notified of a default due to an unpaid mortgage payment and learned that eight payments were late in a 13-month time frame. Those, combined with the lien, damaged her credit badly enough that she couldn’t refinance her home to pay off her debts. To top it all off, Milano said that Hellie didn’t bother to pay her income taxes for 2013 or 2014, resulting in more penalties and interest. Oh, and according to her, he also didn’t pay her employees’ income taxes — and he frequently paid her employees late.
But that was just the beginning of the issues. In a scene that could be ripped from a crime thriller, Milano said that Hellie Scotch-taped her signature onto a wire authorization and, without her knowledge, invested a whopping $351,000 of Milano’s cash in a parking lot venture in which he was an investor. Just for the record, that parking lot has yet to yield a penny of revenue.
Milano alleged that to keep things afloat, Hellie then orchestrated a complex “shell game” in which he initiated loans between clients — all at high interest rates — to keep them (temporarily) solvent. Somewhere in there, around 2014, Milano turned down the option to stay on for another season on ABC’s show Mistresses, essentially walking away from a paycheck that would have been, at minimum, $1.3 million. She now says she never would have passed on the job if she’d known what dire straights her bank account was in.
In June 2015, Milano officially fired Hellie, who then (according to her) demanded $26,000 for “professional services.” When she refused, he cut himself a check — forging her signature again — which she and her husband discovered when they overdrew their account.
For his part, Hellie is asserting that it was Milano’s lavish lifestyle that led to the issues, not his mismanagement (or illegal activities). “I’d like to say something. Obviously a lot of it’s like the Johnny Depp situation. I can’t say anything just yet,” he recently stated.
Naturally, Milano’s legal team is adamantly denying Hellie’s version of events. “We anticipated this defense,” said Ellyn Garofalo, Milano’s attorney. “Nothing could be further from reality. Alyssa and David live a relatively modest lifestyle centered on their family. It is unfortunate that Mr. Hellie finds it appropriate to blame the clients who trusted him rather than take responsibility for his own negligence and misconduct.”
Milano and her hubs took a break from the drama to spend some time at a promotional event for the Toronto Blue Jays and showed that they could still find something to smile about. However, she confirmed the details in this story via Twitter.
Sadly, this is true. Thank you to everyone for their concern. I appreciate your support. https://t.co/Pl8YqOdqTe
— Alyssa Milano (@Alyssa_Milano) June 19, 2017
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