Former NBCU Exec Pleads Guilty To Wire Fraud

A former NBC Universal treasury manager has pleaded guilty on federal charges that he was involved in a scheme to steal more than $800,000 from the media giant’s petty cash accounts to pay off credit cards and for a pricey Long Island summer home.

According to the U.S. Attorney for the Southern district of New York, James Walsh was employed as NBC Universal’s treasury manager and worked out of the company’s offices at 30 Rockefeller Center. Among Walsh’s responsibilities included reconciling NBC Universal’s bank accounts and performing accounting for NBC Universal’s cash balances. He also had access to a safe at the company’s New York headquarters used for petty cash..

According to the U.S. Attorney, Walsh and his boss, NBCU treasurer Victor Jung (who was charged in January 2007) embezzled money by removing cash from the safe and using that cash for unauthorized purposes. Jung then set up a dummy corporation -- NBC Universal Media Productions -- and caused three fraudulent wire transfers of NBC Universal or its parent General Electric Co. funds to be sent to bank accounts established in the name of the dummy company. 

Jung, according to the indictment, opened accounts at a branch of the Commerce Bank in Manhattan and caused two wire transfers to be sent – one for $575,000 and the other for $238,450 – from an account held by GE in Stamford, Conn., to two different Commerce bank accounts.

Walsh and Jung used the money to pay off large amounts of credit card debt and $40,000 for the rental of a summer home in Southampton, N.Y. The money was also used to pay for a birthday party that Jung threw for Walsh in April 2005.

Walsh, who was not named as a defendant in the original case, pleaded guilty Friday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Theodore Katz to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of wire fraud. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Nov. 4 by U.S. District Judge Kevin Castel. Walsh faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each count.

Jung pleaded guilty on May 6 to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and three counts of wire fraud. He has not yet been sentenced.