September 25, 2015 / 9:50 PM / 3 years ago

QVC employee to plead not guilty to defrauding TV network

PITTSBURGH (Reuters) - A Pennsylvania lighting manager accused of stealing more than $1.8 million from QVC, a televised shopping network that employed him for over a decade, will plead not guilty to all charges at his arraignment next month, his lawyer said Friday.

Douglas Rae, 58, of Bethlehem is accused of devising a scheme to defraud the network through a series of false invoices using two collaborators at different companies, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

Prosecutors say Rae submitted bogus invoices from multiple companies under his control totaling more than $1.8 million to collect money from QVC, a subsidiary of Liberty Interactive Corp. He used the funds for personal expenses including home appliances, electronics, dental services and airline tickets to visit a vacation home, according to the U.S. attorney.

He allegedly gave his collaborators a 10 percent cut of any money they helped him pilfer, according to the indictment. 

The company said it had employed Rae for about 16 years and spokeswoman Diane Zappas said the missing funds were discovered through QVC’s regular internal audit process.

Rae is charged with seven counts of mail fraud, 25 counts of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud and three counts of money laundering.

John R. Hodde, 53, of Aubrey, Texas, and Michael H. Keppler, 55, of Ridgewood, New Jersey, who allegedly assisted Rae by submitting false invoices from their companies, were each separately charged with two counts of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud for their participation.

If convicted on all charges, Rae could spend the rest of his life in prison and be forced to pay full restitution.

Hodde and Keppler could face sentences of up to 40 years and also could be forced to pay full restitution and a $500,000 fine.

Rae has posted $10,000 bail and will appear in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia on Oct. 1, according to court documents. 

Editing By Frank McGurty

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