Ex-Rooms to Go executive to plead guilty in kickback scheme

TAMPA — Two security executives for the Rooms to Go furniture store chain took $838,000 in kickbacks from an outside security vendor, federal prosecutors say.

James B. Loftus Jr., who was the company's director of security, agreed to plead guilty this week to one count of fraud. A plea agreement filed in U.S. District Court on Friday said he faces up to 20 years in prison when sentenced.

Loftus' attorney said his client "has done everything in his power to own up to the situation and deal with it."

"Mr. Loftus has never been in trouble before," said Seth D. Kirschenbaum, an attorney in Atlanta. "He has no prior criminal history. He was deeply remorseful for the conduct that is discussed in the information. He has accepted responsibility for his actions, and he has cooperated with the authorities."

Loftus, 58, lives in Georgia, where he is a mixed-media artist, Kirschenbaum said. It has been years since he worked for Rooms to Go, which is based in Seffner.

Federal prosecutors say Loftus and Brian W. Ouellette, who worked as Rooms to Go's vice president of corporate security, created several shell companies that they used to receive the kickbacks between 2002 and 2007.

Ouellette, who declined comment Friday, has not been charged, according to federal court records, but prosecutors said in court pleadings that he worked with Loftus on the scheme.

The two men, for example, determined the amount of the kickbacks based on a percentage of the money that Rooms to Go paid Security Alliance of Florida, which is based in Doral, to provide security guards at various facilities, authorities said.

Loftus and Ouellette sent sham invoices for consulting services to Security Alliance and a related company, Choice Management Solutions, prosecutors say. The payments for those services went to Loftus and Ouellette through their shell companies.

Loftus received $287,562 and Ouellette received $550,456 in kickbacks, according to the plea agreement.

Richard Danielson can be reached at Danielson@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3403.

Ex-Rooms to Go executive to plead guilty in kickback scheme 11/05/10 [Last modified: Saturday, November 6, 2010 10:06pm]

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