By SAMUEL MAULL, Associated Press Writer
American Express is suing the CEO of a communications company for
payment of $241,000 worth of disputed credit card charges at a
Manhattan topless club.
American Express says in papers filed in state court that Savvis
Inc. chief executive officer Robert A. McCormick was in the club
Scores in October 2003 with at least three other men.
After McCormick got the $241,000 corporate credit card bill, Savvis
called American Express and complained that some of the charges were
fraudulent, the lawsuit says. The communications company said its
chief disputed all but about $20,000, according to the lawsuit.
"We firmly believe that Mr. McCormick was the victim of fraud," said
Deena Williamson, Savvis' deputy general counsel. She declined to
Lonnie Hanover, a Scores spokesman, said he had not talked to all of
the employees involved with McCormick and could not say what the CEO
The lawsuit filed Wednesday against McCormick and Savvis is at least
the third in the past two years involving contested credit card
charges at Scores. One patron sued the club after he got a $28,000
bill and another disputed $129,000 in charges.
After a lawsuit last year, Hanover said that "high rollers" visiting
Scores' "super elite Presidents' Club" spend thousands of dollars on
single bottles of champagne and tip strippers as much as $10,000 for
lap dances and for spending time with them.
The district attorney's office has said it is investigating alleged
overcharging at Scores.
Hanover said that each time a patron spends $10,000, Scores calls the
customer's credit card company to get the charges approved. Scores
even fingerprints the customer and requires him to get on the
telephone with a credit card representative, he said.
"We got authorization for all of the charges," Hanover said of
McCormick's visit. "We followed proper procedures and documentation,
and we were paid."
Court papers say American Express asked McCormick several times to
provide in writing his basis for calling the charges fraudulent.
McCormick failed to respond, and when he was billed again he once
again objected to the charges, the lawsuit says.
American Express says McCormick finally responded in writing in
September 2004, reiterating that some charges on the Scores bill were
bogus, the lawsuit says.
Scores has been paid in full, American Express's court papers say,
while neither Savvis nor McCormick has paid any of the
charges. Failure to pay is a violation of the American Express
corporate credit card agreement, court papers say.
An American Express spokeswoman, Judy Tenzer, said she had no comment.
Copyright 2005 The Associated Press.
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[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: I am reminded of the former Treasurer
of the University of Illinois (in the early 1990's) who ripped off
about a million dollars from an obscure, seldom used (but not entirely
forgotten about) account at University of Illinois and spent it all in
an infamous strip club/topless dancing place on Mannheim Road in the
Chicago area. This 63-year old fellow, Treasurer/Trustee/VIP at the
University of Illinois was punished severely when internal auditors at
U of I caught up with him. U of I even tried to recover the money by
suing the strip club and they wound up settling with the topless strip
joint for about six hundred thousand dollars. It was quite a big stink
at the time. Many Chicagoans probably remember it happening. PAT]