William John Grizack wanted so much to become partner at Pave Advertising and Design LLC in Winston-Salem that he falsified a whopping $269 million in contracts, a prosecutor said Thursday.
Before he was caught, Grizack, 42, who now lives in West Hollywood, Calif., received a $165,000 increase in his salary and a $65,000 car as a result of using those fake contracts to get a partnership, Scott Harkey, a financial- crimes prosecutor with the N.C. Conference of District Attorneys, said in Forsyth Superior Court.
Grizack pleaded guilty Thursday to one count of attempting to obtain property by false pretenses and two counts of obtaining property by false pretenses. Judge Eric Wilson of Forsyth Superior Court put off sentencing, per a plea arrangement, until the week of June 13. Grizack has agreed to pay $235,000 to Pave, now known as The Variable, and another company, McKinney Ventures LLC in Durham.
Forsyth County District Attorney Jim O’Neill said Harkey prosecuted the case because O’Neill’s children attend school with the children of a Pave official. O’Neill said he also wanted a prosecutor with a specialty in white-collar crimes to handle the case.
Bernie Desrosiers, Grizack’s attorney, said in court that he would reserve his comments until the sentencing hearing. Both sides agreed on aggravating factors and mitigating factors. Mitigating factors included that Grizack was a person of good character, that he accepted responsibility and that he had support in the community.
The aggravating factor was that this was an “attempted taking of property of great monetary value or damage causing great monetary loss,” according to court documents.
Fake emails and phone calls
In court, Harkey said Grizack had been working for Pave and was trying to become a partner. In order to do that, he had to either pay a $150,000 fee or bring in $500,000 worth of new business, Harkey said. He had a deadline of July 31, 2012.
To that end, Grizack presented Pave executives with false contracts with the Coca-Cola Co. and Brown-Forman Corp., Harkey said. Brown-Forman is the maker of such liquors as Jack Daniels and Southern Comfort. The first two contracts Grizack presented were worth a combined $700,000, and they were fake, Harkey said.
And he presented more fake contracts, worth anywhere from $120,000 to $140 million, Harkey said. To cover his tracks, Grizack created fake emails and pretended to call officials from Coca-Cola and Brown-Forman, Harkey said in court. The total value of those fake contracts was $269.9 million, he said.
Those contracts landed Grizack the partnership with Pave, Harkey said. As a partner, he received a $165,000 boost in his salary, $22,500 in 401(k) contributions and a $65,000 Audi Q7 car, he said.
That’s not all. Pave contacted McKinney Ventures to help handle all the new contracts that Grizack had brought in, Harkey said. McKinney transferred $1.5 million to Pave and hired 40 employees from around the country, he said. McKinney also hired Grizack and paid him an annual salary of $250,000, Harkey said. Harkey said he could not comment on what happened to the employees because the case is still pending.
Scheme discovered in 2013
Pave executives discovered the fraud in February 2013, and Harkey said Grizack left the company. Grizack then went to work at Egg Strategy, which has offices in Boulder, Colo., and Chicago. He was executive director, according to his page on LinkedIn, a business networking website. Harkey said in court that Grizack falsified a $14 million contract with McDonald’s. The company soon found out and Grizack left that job, Harkey said.
Grizack’s LinkedIn page said that after leaving Egg Strategy, he worked as chief strategy officer for Dailey Advertising in West Hollywood from October 2014 to September 2015. A woman who answered the phone at Dailey said he no longer worked there and referred further questions to the company’s human resources director, who did not return a message asking for comment.
Grizack said on his LinkedIn page that he is a 2003 graduate of Wake Forest University’s Babcock Graduate School of Management and started two businesses before beginning work at Pave in 2010.
His LinkedIn page, which was no longer available publicly as of Thursday, described him as a “bundle of frenetic ides stuffed into a cannon and shot through a particle accelerator.”
“His endless curiosity and entrepreneurial instinct continually push our clients to consider different methods,” the LinkedIn profile read. “He isn’t ‘put’ on your business; he is ‘unleashed.’”
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