California-based LMNO Cable Group, currently engaging in a US$7 million lawsuit against Discovery Communications alleging copyright infringement and breach of contract, has filed suit against its former accountant, who the company claims has engaged in fraud and civil extortion.
The complaint, filed last Thursday (June 30) in Los Angeles’ Superior Court and seen by realscreen, alleges that the accountant, Paul Ikegami of Torrence-based Ikegami & Co., made over $1,500,000 worth of unauthorized payments to himself “through a variety of schemes.”
The prodco had been working with the accountancy firm since 1995, when it was run by the accused’s father, and by 2008 the younger Ikegami had taken more control of the LMNO account, according to the suit. In October of last year, the suit alleges that the production company noticed “erratic” behavior and attempted to terminate the relationship, which resulted in the defendant allegedly attempting to extort $800,000 from LMNO. When the prodco refused, the former accountant is alleged to have presented the doctored books to Discovery, referred to in the complaint as “LMNO’s largest customer.”
After news broke of LMNO filing its suit against Discovery Communications, the global media company confirmed that it had terminated certain of its contracts with the prodco, including those for The Little Couple (pictured) and 7 Little Johnstons, for TLC; and Unusual Suspects, Killer Confessions, Hollywood & Crime and Speaking for the Dead for ID.
The complaint states that LMNO is seeking judgment for “actual damages in an amount to be proven at trial, but presently believed to be in excess of $8 million,” as well as punitive damages and restitution.
Ikegami has not yet issued comment to the trade press regarding the suit or the allegations.
News of the lawsuit came shortly after it was reported in the U.S. trade press that the FBI executed search warrants of LMNO’s offices in Encino. In comments to the U.S. trades, an FBI spokesperson said the search warrants were sealed by a federal judge.