‘Live like the Kardashians’: Jury orders wife of former Chesterfield executive who embezzled millions to pay | Law and order
CLAYTON — The wife of the former CFO of a Chesterfield company who embezzled millions from the company over a decade must pay the company $177,000, a St. Louis County jury has heard.
The jury ruled Thursday that Chesterfield’s Susan Luina should pay CMS Communications Inc., finding that she benefited from her husband Ramon “Trey” R. Luina III’s $2.8 million embezzlement scheme.
Verdict in CMS against Luina et al
Trey Luina, 47, served 27 months of a 41-month federal prison sentence after pleading guilty to mail fraud in 2017 in U.S. District Court in St. Louis. He was released from federal prison in November 2020.
Trey Luina admitted to stealing an average of $280,000 a year from the telephone equipment company, during which time more than two dozen of the company’s 97 employees lost their jobs and took pay cuts.
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CMS sued Trey and Susan Luina and their parents in St. Louis County Circuit Court in 2017, claiming the couple and their parents benefited from his scheme and the sale of a lakeside home that the couple had built with embezzled money.
Robert Schultz, a lawyer for CMS, said Trey Luina spent around $350,000 of stolen money on the mortgage and improvements to the couple’s Chesterfield home and another $450,000 on building and furnishing it. a six-bedroom lakefront home in Perryville, Missouri.
Luina took $1.3 million in cash, spent $40,000 on vacations in Florida, Colorado and Italy, $82,000 on vehicles, $93,000 on other businesses and nearly $1 million on credit cards. credit, according to company records.
Schultz said that after CMS fired Trey Luina, he and his wife sold the Perryville home to their parents for about $400,000 and used the proceeds—about $180,000—to pay CMS back.
“They lived like the Kardashians,” Schultz said of the couple. “The sad thing is that about $2 million of what he stole was wasted on dinners, trips, some jewelry. Imagine spending a thousand dollars a day on experiences. Every day was like Disneyland with those people.”
The jury found that the couple’s parents, Thelma and Ramon R. Luina Jr. of Virginia and James and Bernadette Winkler of Fenton, were not responsible.
Schultz said he was “somewhat disappointed” with the verdict but respects the jury’s decision.
While Trey Luina was ordered in his criminal case to repay CMS $2.2 million, Schultz said CMS still plans to pursue civil penalties against him on counts including fraud. , unjust enrichment and breach of financial obligations.
So far, Trey Luina has repaid CMS about $550,000, which includes monthly restitution payments of $500, said Dan Emerson, who represented the couple and their parents in the civil lawsuit.
Emerson said he’s glad the jury didn’t find the parents responsible, but that withholding Susan Luina’s salary is ‘unfortunate’ because he thinks it was clear ‘nobody knew’ Trey Luina was embezzling CMS for years.
“I understand where the jury was coming from,” Emerson said. “He led an opulent life.”
Trey Luina “did a terrible thing and he knows it, and he’s going to live with it for the rest of his life,” Emerson said.