LOS ANGELES (CNS) — The drummer and onetime musical director of “The Arsenio Hall Show” has pleaded guilty in downtown Los Angeles to a federal charge of embezzling $750,000 from a Bulgarian charity for homeless children.
Robin DiMaggio, 48, pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud and faces up to 20 years in prison. US District Judge Dolly M. Gee scheduled sentencing for March 4.
According to a criminal complaint, the Woodland Hills man lied to a Bulgarian-based nonprofit called the Peace for You Peace for Me Foundation, telling them he would help organize a charity concert in the Bulgarian capital of Sofia to raise money for homeless and displaced children from war zones. No artists were named in the complaint.
On Aug. 5, 2016, the foundation’s financial sponsor — identified in Los Angeles federal court documents by the initials K.D. — allegedly wired $750,000 to a DiMaggio-controlled account as a guarantee for future payments related to artists performing at the charity concert. Prior to the money transfer, DiMaggio allegedly pledged to place the funds in an escrow account to pay the performers.
The complaint, however, alleges that DiMaggio never set up the escrow account, and instead deposited the $750,000 into his personal bank account and used the money to make payments on cars for family members, credit card debt and his living expenses.
Prosecutors contend that within weeks of the wire transfer, DiMaggio used $251,370 of the funds to purchase a Calabasas home for his ex-wife. He also allegedly wired $150,000 of the funds to a bank account in the name of his company, DiMagic Entertainment Inc., but none of the transfers were sent to artists or their management in connection with the charity concert in Bulgaria, according to the complaint.
On Aug. 10, 2016 — the day after he deposited the $750,000 into his personal bank account — DiMaggio emailed the foundation’s financial sponsor, stating that “an entire group of managers” believed the charity concert in Bulgaria should be postponed from Oct. 1, 2016, to Dec. 1, 2016, during the Bulgarian winter, federal prosecutors allege.
When the foundation’s financial sponsor demanded the return of the $750,000, DiMaggio wrote back that he had sent the deposit to the artists as agreed and that he would return the funds when the deposits were returned, the complaint alleges.
The financial sponsor sued DiMaggio in Los Angeles County Superior Court in December 2016, and during a deposition, DiMaggio testified that a third party had used his email account to contact the foundation about the concert and had been responsible for the withdrawal of most of the funds, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles.
However, DiMaggio also admitted at the deposition that he used $251,370 in funds to buy the Calabasas home for his ex-wife as a partial settlement of his spousal support, court papers allege. Nine months later, DiMaggio filed a Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition. During bankruptcy court proceedings, the financial sponsor and the sponsor’s company, which also had filed claims against him in that court, were awarded $1.2 million.
DiMaggio — who worked in the band on Arsenio Hall’s late-night TV show in 2013 — describes himself as a professional drummer and percussionist who has performed or recorded with Paul Simon, David Bowie, Jackson Browne, Diana Ross, Tupac, Dr. Dre and others. He also claims to have the recurring title of musical director to the United Nations.
DiMaggio said in an interview posted on his website that although he “wasn’t born yet, my great aunt was Marilyn Monroe (and) my great uncle was Joe DiMaggio.”