Until last year, Chris Olivera served as GameStop’s vice president of corporate communications and public affairs. Given the sheer number of ads the company pushes on its customers in-store, by mail, on television and via the ‘net, it seems that he was pretty successful in spreading the word about GameStop’s various sales and special offers. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the extent of Olivera’s talents, as a newly uncovered federal indictment reveals that Olivera also has sticky hands. Very, very sticky hands.
According to the document (.pdf), Olivera began siphoning money from GameStop in July of 2009. Instead of just swiping a handful of bills from petty cash though, Olivera’s scheme was like something out of a lazy John Grisham novel. Olivera, the court claims, set up a company called Cloud Communications LLC that while innocuous on paper, didn’t actually exist in the real world. Nor did any of the Cloud Communications employees Olivera named as contacts when he used his VP position to hire the fictional firm as a PR consultant for GameStop. As he was an otherwise solid employee, Olivera’s colleagues saw nothing amiss in his interactions with Cloud, though all the while Olivera was redirecting all money paid to Cloud to his personal accounts.
In total, over the course of roughly two years, Olivera managed to steal nearly $2 million from the retailer before his larcenous efforts were discovered.
Now that the jig is officially up, Olivera has officially plead guilty to one count of mail fraud. That may seem minor, but the government takes the postal system very seriously. The maximum punishment Olivera now faces could include up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Of course, that’s before any civil action is taken against Olivera by GameStop. Given the huge amount of money the company lost to Olivera’s scheme, it only seems reasonable to expect that it would want to recoup some of its cash (or, failing that, exact a pound of flesh to set an example to future would-be thieves). We contacted GameStop and while the company refused to elaborate on its official plans for this situation going forward, it did confirm that Olivera left the company at some point during 2011. Though we pressed the issue, GameStop wouldn’t clarify why Olivera departed, though we have to assume that the discovery of his theft probably had something to do with it.