Executive stole money, hired rapper Flo Rida for birthday bash, lawsuit claims

Robert Snell
The Detroit News
Kim Janese appears on stage with rapper Flo Rida during her private 50th birthday party at the Belly Up Tavern in Solana Beach, California, on March 10, 2019.

A businessman embezzled more than $57,000 from his company and spent some of the money hiring rapper Flo Rida to perform at his wife's 50th birthday party, according to a federal lawsuit Monday.

Concert promotions executive Chris Janese used $27,500 to hire Flo Rida for a private party at the California live music venue Belly Up Tavern in March, according to the lawsuit filed by Janese's former employer, G&R Live. 

Janese and friends posted video and photographs from the bash on social media, including video of wife Kim Janese standing on stage alongside the "Low" rapper and holding a bottle of Dom Perignon champagne.

Chris Janese, 48, of Rancho Santa Fe, California, said Tuesday he had not been served with a copy of the lawsuit.

"I had a fantastic 13+ years with G&R and they are wonderful people. I’m saddened that it has come to this," he wrote in a text message to The News. "The last interaction I had before departing was them trying to get me to sign a 3 year extension on my contract. I was not open to that path and so we parted ways."

His wife did not respond to messages seeking comment.

G&R Live, which is affiliated with Farmington Hills marketing firm Gail & Rice Inc., discovered the alleged embezzlement earlier this year and learned it extended beyond hiring Flo Rida, company lawyer Frederick Elias wrote in the lawsuit.

Janese fraudulently charged the company for personal travel costs and had employees perform personal services for him during work hours, according to the lawsuit.

Kim and Chris Janese

The company suspended Janese in April and uncovered additional fraud, theft, embezzlement and intentional misappropriation of company funds, the lawsuit alleges.

G&R Live employees were instructed to spend more than 100 hours preparing for the 50th birthday party and he charged the company $7,500 for lighting and sound services at the bash, according to the lawsuit.

"... Janese improperly directed charges of $1,500 to an unrelated customer project for the cost of a mentalist to perform at the party," the lawsuit alleges.

He also spent $6,641 on a private jet to attend a personal charity event in January, according to the lawsuit.

"On July 3, 2018, Janese improperly directed the issuance of a customer credit reducing the customer’s invoice in the amount of $4,800 in exchange for a Valentino purse which Janese had requested the customer purchase for Janese’s wife," the lawyer wrote in the lawsuit.

Janese also charged the company for his family's cell phone expenses and landline service at their home, according to the lawsuit.

"Since at least 2012, Janese improperly removed valuable autographed guitars paid for by G&R Live to his home for his own personal use and benefit," the lawsuit alleges.

Janese was fired Saturday and has failed to repay the company or return the property, according to the complaint, which accuses the former company executive of breach of contract, unjust enrichment, fraud, conversion, embezzlement, misappropriation of funds and breach of fiduciary duty.

The company wants Janese to pay more than $75,000 plus attorney fees.


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