The former escort under investigation for allegedly using $5.8 million from a suburban company to fund a lavish lifestyle with the help of a client-turned-boyfriend is upset at his attempts to portray her as “the brains behind this operation,” the woman’s lawyer said Friday.
The Tribune this week reported that the woman, Crystal Lundberg, and Scott Kennedy, a onetime executive who has been fired from the firm, are the focus of a federal probe into their use of his former employer’s funds. A court filing lays out the pair’s wild spending, including hundreds of thousands of dollars in travel and luxury goods, and about $24,000 for movers to haul Lundberg’s potted plants from Illinois to her new 6,500-square-foot mansion in San Diego, where she planned to open a spa with company cash.
Kennedy, 43, worked as a top financial official at Nemera, a drug-delivery device company in Buffalo Grove, when he met Lundberg, 31, through Backpage.com, a site that advertises sexual services. Kennedy first gave Lundberg access to a company credit card in November 2015 after she asked for help buying Christmas gifts for her daughters, an FBI affidavit alleged.
Kennedy this week told the Tribune he was “stupid” and shouldn’t have trusted Lundberg, but her California-based attorney, Marc Carlos, fired back Friday, telling the newspaper that Kennedy is responsible for the fraud.
“He knew what she was. He knew what her past was. Then he’s the one who wanted to get in her good graces by giving her gifts,” Carlos said. “He’s the one who has … the means, the method, the opportunity and the motive to commit a crime. She doesn’t.”
Lundberg is not a “financial genius,” did not go to college and lacks the sophistication to commit a crime like this, Carlos said.
“He needs to do something to lessen his liability, and by saying he’s a victim of the, whatever it is, psycho-sexual control this woman has over him is his only out,” Carlos said. “It’s the only way he’s going to be able to reduce his criminal liability, but it’s ridiculous.”
The allegations were detailed in an FBI warrant to seize $36,229 from the checking account of the spa business Lundberg was starting in San Diego.
Neither are named in the court filing, but Kennedy himself, his criminal-defense lawyer and his former company all identified him as the business executive, identified as Individual A by authorities. The former escort, referred to as Individual B in the paperwork, is identified in the court filing as president of K & K Enterprises, the spa business.
The court document, filed under seal in mid-May, says both Kennedy and Lundberg are under investigation for fraud and money laundering, but records show criminal charges have not been filed against either. In the court filing, the FBI said Kennedy has been cooperating with investigators, and his attorney, Sami Azhari, confirmed that they were working toward “an amicable resolution.”
Azhari responded Friday to Lundberg’s attempts to shift all blame to Kennedy.
“It would be prudent of Crystal and her attorney to refrain from making any comments or assertions that could eventually be contradicted, particularly in light of the investigation and any potential criminal charges she faces,” he said.
Among the credit charges allegedly run up mostly by Lundberg were plastic surgery during a stay in Miami; two Rolex watches at a cost of a combined $60,000; a personal driver for her daughters at a cost of $8,000 a month; a $2,500-a-month maid; two purebred dogs that cost as much as $6,000; and trips to Bali, France, Costa Rica, Hawaii, Santorini, Bora Bora and Fiji. Rent on the mansion was $12,000 a month, the court filing said.
An analysis by Nemera found more than 8,800 improper charges to the company credit card between November 2015 and mid-March 2017. The company found the spending spree totals included $970,734 on travel; $606,887 on clothing and accessories; $552,662 on home decor and improvement; and $279,231 on jewelry, among other line items.
While Kennedy largely blamed Lundberg for the spending, the FBI filing said he admitted using the company credit card to pay for travel and rent for a hotel where he was living when Nemera uncovered the fraud. He also acknowledged to the FBI that he bought gift cards with the credit card to pay for day-to-day expenses after Lundberg allegedly maxed out his personal credit cards, authorities said.
In his Tribune interview, Kennedy said he was duped by Lundberg because he wanted to have a family. Carlos, her lawyer, scoffed at that notion.
“A family with somebody (who) before they became a couple he was paying hourly, that’s ridiculous,” Carlos said. “For him to say she tricked him is just a way of him to lessen his liability, make himself look better.”
Kennedy also maintained to the FBI that Lundberg had led him to believe she would eventually reimburse him, a version of events he repeated to the Tribune. Kennedy said Lundberg told him she had been adopted by a wealthy family as a child and had a trust fund in her name worth $4 million that she could access at 30, according to the FBI filing.
But the FBI document also notes Lundberg’s bankruptcy filing in 2009 when she reported only about $100 in a checking account and income of about $200 a month. The bankruptcy filing made no mention of any trust funds, the FBI pointed out.
Asked about the trust fund claim and whether Lundberg ever told Kennedy she’d pay him back, Lundberg’s attorney declined to answer.