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 comment further.
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 purchased.
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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For additional headlines and news from Associated Press, please go to:For stories from Christian Science Monitor and New York Times and other presses, please go to: [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]