Alyssa Milano sues former business manager for bilking her for millions


I don’t read the industry outlets as much as I should, so I missed this story on Variety until E! picked it up. Alyssa Milano is suing her former business manager, accountant Kenneth Hellie, for alleged mismanagement of funds. Her lawsuit claims that Hellie and his firm used her money to make risky investments she did not approve of in ventures in which he had a financial stake, that they failed to pay her bills and taxes, and that they ultimately left her and her husband with bad credit and millions in debt. Hellie’s explanation is that it’s like Johnny Depp’s financial problems, which means that Milano couldn’t stop spending I guess. Milano’s side says that’s not the case at all and that she and her family live within their means. What’s more is that Milano says she turned down another season of Mistresses (she had a newborn at home at the time) because Hellie assured her she had plenty of money.

Alyssa Milano has filed a $10 million lawsuit accusing her former business manager of severe misconduct that caused her to spiral into a financial disaster.

The suit accuses accountant Kenneth Hellie and his firm, Hellie, Hoffer & Co., of forging her signature on checks, failing to pay overdue bills and taxes, and inducing her to make bad investments in businesses in which he was also an investor, without disclosing the conflict.

Hellie’s actions, according to the suit, left Milano and her husband, talent agent David Bugliari, “with millions of dollars in debt and their credit in ruins.”

The suit was filed Friday in L.A. Superior Court in Van Nuys. Reached by phone on Saturday, Hellie declined to discuss the specifics.

“I’d like to say something,” he said. “Obviously a lot of it’s like the Johnny Depp situation. I can’t say anything just yet.”

“We anticipated this defense,” said Milano’s attorney, Ellyn Garofalo, a partner at Liner LLP. “Nothing could be further from reality. Alyssa and David live a relatively modest lifestyle centered on their family. It is unfortunate that Mr. Hellie finds it appropriate to blame the clients who trusted him rather than take responsibility for his own negligence and misconduct.”

She also alleges that Hellie used Milano’s funds to prop up his own investments. On four occasions, she says, Hellie transferred money out of her account without obtaining her signature. Instead, she says he scotch-taped her signature onto the wire authorization. She alleges that without her authorization, Hellie invested $351,000 of her money into a parking lot venture that has yet to generate any income. She says Hellie did not disclose that he was also an investor in the property.

Throughout, Milano says she continued to receive assurances that her finances were healthy. In 2014, she turned down appearing in the third season of the ABC show “Mistresses.” The season would have paid her $1.3 million, and she says she may have negotiated an even more lucrative deal for the fourth season. Had she known how dire her finances truly were, the suit states she “would never have turned down” the job.

[From Variety]

According to the lawsuit Hellie also failed to pay her mortgage, her taxes and cut and pasted her signature on checks she didn’t approve. This sounds like such a nightmare. It’s like the Alanis Morissette case in that you trust someone with all your assets and they skim and steal until it’s too late to fix and you feel betrayed but worse than that, you’re broke and in debt and had no idea. It’s possible that Milano and her husband are living large, but if half of what this lawsuit alleges is true I’m team Milano. I guess I always am though. The thing that surprises me is that she this kind of money squirreled away. To me that suggests she was frugal, but again it’s easy to try and keep up with the Joneses and lose it all in Hollywood.




Photos credit: WENN

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27 Responses to “Alyssa Milano sues former business manager for bilking her for millions”

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  1. perplexed says:

    It doesn’t seem like she’s ever lived large.

    If this were a pattern for her, I figure she would have blown through all her Who’s the Boss money in her twenties.

    • notasugarhere says:

      I thought her parents had invested her early tv money in real estate in her name? Maybe that was another child actress. She also had the Touch sports apparel line, which I hope this fellow hasn’t mismanaged too.

    • Chaine says:

      I bet she did not have huge amounts of Who’s The Boss money. That show was 30 years ago, before stars had the big payoffs they do for sitcoms now. Plus she started out as a generic kid, the supposed stars were Tony Danza and Judith Light.

  2. Tiffany says:

    I believe her. I just don’t buy her as a Tori Spelling type.

    • MC2 says:

      I agree and I don’t buy her as the Johnny Depp type either. That made me laugh. What a dirty, guilty, POS this guy seems to be.

  3. greenmonster says:

    I read a home story about her a couple of years ago and her house was very nice, but also pretty humble compared to other Hollywood homes. I believe her and would be suprised if she is a money wating brat.

  4. Jeesie says:

    I feel bad for her, but it also shocks me how hands off some of these celebrities are.

    I know a lot of people who have their money managed, and while they don’t always do the hard yards of personally checking out their investments, they do all keep a very close eye on what they have, what’s coming in, and what’s going out. They could get burnt by some bad investments here or there, but they do at least know how much they have and how it’s being used.

    • Triple Cardinal says:

      But if the verbal and paper statements from the accounting firm are bogus (see also: Bernie Madoff), you haven’t a clue your investments are gone until your credit card is refused or you’re sued for non-payment.

      There’s no mention of Milano signing off on Power of Attorney papers. It doesn’t sound like the manager followed her instructions and things tanked. This sounds like actions were taken behind her back.

    • I agree they should know where their money is, how much is coming in and how much is going out and where it’s going. I remember Oprah saying once that she still signs all of her own checks. If a billionaire can do it, so can an actress.

  5. Nem says:

    I hope she succeed in getting payback…
    What an as….. To assure her she is rich enough to refuse work and taking family time while they are ruining her….
    Really sad as she has worked since childhood, and can’t have now financial security.
    It looks like comptability services aren’t controled enough.

  6. Kitten says:

    I only wish the best for this woman.

  7. Chelly says:

    The only thing I never understand (as mentioned above) is how it is that these things can happen in the course of yrs & they never know until it’s “too late”. Not that I don’t believe her but, geez, don’t these people sit with their accountants and go over the books & their own finances? Make sure everything looks good & are then able to go over at that time any discrepancies/misappropriation of funds in order to maintain their fortune & upkeep of lifestyle & family?? I mean, I understand they have incredibly busy lives but you have to be able to find the time to sit down & carefully go over all of your finances…taking ANYONES word should never be enough, no matter how long you’ve known them. Anyway, enough of the preaching. If all this is true I hope she wins her case & is much more careful from now on

    • If a stay at home mom or dad can let a few financial matters slip by I imagine a busy actress could. Also when the theft is spread out over years it’s harder to catch. Lastly, the actual thief is much craftier, deceitful and adept at faking statements and reports – there’s a reason they aren’t caught for years and that reason doesn’t always point to laziness or stupidity on the part of the victim.

      • Izzy says:

        This isn’t a few matters, though, and when you are dealing with such a large volume of money and/or investments, it’s a much better idea to keep everything separated. My investments are managed separately from the accounting side of it. The thing is, most celebrities and athletes just hand everything over and assume it’s taken care of; they never get an independent third party to check it. That one simple action could prevent a lot of this kind of mismanagement and fraud.

      • Emma33 says:

        Izzy, that’s what I don’ t understand either…why not an independent audit once every year or two? Kevin Bacon also lost all his money (or most of it) at one stage too.

  8. Radley says:

    I think it’s probably a good idea to hire a forensic accounting firm to keep an eye on whatever entity handles your day-to-day finances and investments. Put them on notice that there will be quarterly, if not monthly, checks, so don’t even think about any monkey business.

    • Izzy says:

      THIS. My comment right below yours pretty much says the same thing. I work for a nonprofit and sit on the board of my homeowner’s association. Both entities get annual audits.

  9. Izzy says:

    The sports-entertainment industry complex is bizarre and frightening. These entertainers and athletes give control of their lives over – pretty much wholesale – to a team of people and and it never occurs to them to check, check, double-check. In case any celebs happen to read this blog and comments, here are some tips and red flags I learned when working for a pro sports team:
    1) You have the right to review your bank and credit card statements, and you should, MONTHLY.
    2) You have the right to get comprehensive monthly or quarterly summaries of your investments and their performance, and you should have those.
    3) ALWAYS get actual proof that your taxes have been paid every year. You do not mess with the IRS. They brought down Al Capone; you would be a cakewalk compared to that.
    4) If any of your advisors or managers balk at having to give you access to any of that information, that in itself is a huge red flag; at that point, you should be looking at perhaps hiring an independent auditor.
    5) If you suspect mismanagement of your funds, find a really good forensic accountant. You’re gonna need it.
    SMH. The control freak in me is just wigging out over how much control these people DON’T have over their own lives.

  10. Fanny says:

    Isn’t her husband a CAA agent? It’s one thing for an actor to mismanage their finances because they are artistes, but her husband is a businessman in the industry. This doesn’t pass the smell test for me.

    • notasugarhere says:

      He does celebrity image management, not money management. He might not know any more about fiscal management than she does – which is likely why they hired someone to do that job.

  11. Susie says:

    This is totally a thing. I trusted an accountant with money I’d made on some books and he failed to FILE my taxes even. I was trusting him and my husband at the time. I didn’t find out until it was too late and by then it cost over $100,000 to fix the tax issue with penalties and interest, not to mention the new accountants I had to hire to fix the mess. He wiped me out, and I never sued. I wish now I had.

    • Izzy says:

      🙁 I’m so sorry you had to go through that.

    • Ange says:

      Yep, my parents were bilked out of $45,000 by a shoddy accountant. He wasn’t crooked per se, just stuffed a few things up and it cost my parents big time.

  12. themummy says:

    It was always my understanding that Milano has always been very humble and lived a fairly modest, normal lifestyle–even given her fame and wealth. I feel like I maybe remember seeing photos of her house at one point and it was nice, but surprisingly normal-ish. Maybe I’m remembering someone else’s house, but I don’t think so. And she’s been one to flaunt her wealth or to be known to live large. I believe her side of this story, and I’m not surprised one bit that her management jumped on the ripe opportunity to just try to cast her as being like Depp. I’m just not buying that at all.

  13. Izzy says:

    Where the heck is SAG-AFTRA in all this? They should have basic “how to manage your life” courses for their members, which teach them how to actually keep a watchful eye on their business.