MillerCoors LLC, the U.S. joint venture of Molson Coors Brewing Co. and SABMiller Plc, said an internal investigation found two veteran employees embezzled millions of dollars from the brewer.
Employee David Colletti is alleged to have stolen several million dollars over several years with help from former vendors, Chief Executive Officer Tom Long said this week in a company memo that was reviewed by Bloomberg. Another employee, Paul Edwards, was allegedly “involved to a lesser extent in the scheme,” Long said. MillerCoors has referred the case to federal authorities for criminal prosecution.
“We are disappointed by this betrayal of pride and integrity by two longtime employees of the company,” Long said in the memo. “MillerCoors is seeking to recover the stolen funds from a combination of insurance and restitution in the criminal process.”
The men accused of the theft worked in a unit that sells beer to restaurant and bar chains. Colletti didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail forwarded to him by attorney Tom Halloran, a Milwaukee-based lawyer who represented him in a local real estate investment deal.
Jonathan Stern, a company spokesman, declined to comment beyond an e-mailed statement that repeated language from the memo. He also declined to provide contact information for the former employees. The details of the memo were previously reported by Beer Business Daily.
MillerCoors, formed by Denver-based Molson Coors and London-based SABMiller in 2008, has struggled to protect shelf space and tap handles, with beers such as Miller Lite losing ground to craft brews and cocktails. The company has created its own versions of craft beers and ciders to win back consumers. Chain sales representatives like the accused employees are on the front lines of that fight.
“MillerCoors will cooperate with federal authorities to assure that all those who were complicit in this crime are identified and prosecuted,” Long said in the memo. “This crime exploited some gaps in our vendor approval process that have since been addressed.”