LAS VEGAS – The former chief operations officer for Las Vegas Strip performer Terry Fator, along with a second former employee, are accused of stealing nearly $1 million from the headliner’s businesses, police allege in documents obtained.
Vincent Souza faces four counts of theft above $3,500, records showed. Police allege Souza stole the money through business credit cards and salary increases, documents said. The second former employee’s name was redacted in the documents. It was unclear if she faced any charges Tuesday.
Fator, a well-known ventriloquist, won season two of “America’s Got Talent.” At the time of the allegations, Fator had a residency at The Mirage. Fator has since moved to New York-New York.
In October 2021, Fator called Metro police to file a complaint for embezzlement against Souza, and the unnamed former employee who oversaw payroll, documents said. Souza and the second employee both worked at Fator’s companies, which facilitated his Las Vegas Strip residency and other performances, documents said.
Fator had previously filed a similar complaint with the FBI. Agents, along with the Nevada Attorney General’s Office, chose not to prosecute the case.
Two months before Fator filed the report with Metro police, he sued his accounting firm. The case was settled through arbitration, documents said.
In October, Fator alleged to police that Souza had “embezzled over $1 million for personal use and then charged the company for the credit card changes,” documents said.
Fator told police there was no formal process to increase employee pay, however, Souza’s salary increased from $150,000 in 2015 to $200,000 in 2017; and the second employee’s pay rose from $65,000 in 2015 to $140,000 in 2017, documents said.
“It is estimated that he ran more than $500,000 through his account and charged back the company through checks written out to Vincent, from Vincent,” documents said. “There is zero reason for Vincent to be writing checks to his personal accounts, due to the fact he was given a corporate credit card through the company. [The second employee] also had an American Express credit card account… assigned to her. It is believed [she] also ran several fraudulent transactions through the company credit card.”
In 2020, Souza fired the entire office staff, including himself, over concerns “the company was no longer financially solvent,” documents said. That same year, Souza told investigators “he used the company credit card for a vacation to Hawaii, which was unauthorized, along with trips to Europe and Disneyland,” documents said.
In June 2022, an employee at Walt Disney World told investigators Souza attempted “to place a security deposit on a residence in Buena Vista, Florida, using Disney Vacation Points, which were fraudulently purchased on the company credit card,” documents said.
Investigators also allege Souza “made several fraudulent purchases under credit cards” funded by Fator’s companies to pay for a side business for hula shows, documents said. Other payments included a downpayment on a new Tesla, three installments for his home and Vegas Golden Knights tickets, documents said.
Investigators later subpoenaed records from the Golden Knights and Las Vegas Raiders, finding Souza paid tens of thousands of dollars for season tickets and other fees, documents said.
Throughout 2022, Metro investigators attempted to contact Souza with no luck, documents said. Souza’s attorney, Jack Buchanan, later told police he would be the point person for his client.
“No different than any other client, irrespective of the celebrity of the alleged victim, Mr. Souza is presumed innocent and I believe will remain as such,” Buchanan said in a statement Tuesday. “Our investigation is just beginning into allegations that span multiple years, and because of this, we anticipate once all legal measures and an accounting is exhausted, Mr. Souza will be vindicated.”
“Terry Fator appreciates the efforts of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department in this matter and will of course cooperate in any way that may be appropriate,” Fator’s spokesperson said in a statement Tuesday.
Metro police arrested Souza on a warrant last week, records showed. He was granted a walk-through initial appearance and was not required to post bail.
A preliminary hearing was scheduled for Jan. 16.
Credits: 8 News Now
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