ST. LOUIS • A man who lavished online strippers with everything from chocolates to flowers to shoes — even paying college tuition for one woman — charged nearly a half-million dollars of it to his St. Louis-area employer, federal prosecutors say.
John David Berrett, an Internet technology architect for World Wide Technology Inc., was indicted Thursday on five counts of wire fraud, according to prosecutors. Berrett, 40, of Gilbert, Ariz., could not be reached for comment, and no attorney was listed in court records.
Berrett, whose job for the Maryland Heights-based company was to meet clients in the United States and abroad to provide information technology training and support, is accused of falsifying invoices totaling $476,000 for various payments and gifts to strippers on a website between September 2013 and last October.
The indictment says Berrett bought online “tokens” to tip the website’s strippers more than 2,200 times, spending more than $100,000.
Berrett used his company credit card to buy strippers various gifts including chocolates, flowers, electronics, wine, a television, a handbag, a laptop, an iPod and shoes, the indictment says. Berrett also used his card to send $26,800 to one online stripper to pay for her college tuition, replace tires on her car and cover her family’s utility bill.
Berrett also used his company credit card to spend $131.08 with Interactive Life Forms, parent company of sex-toy maker Fleshlight, and listed the purchase as exam test prep questions, the indictment says. Berrett paid $226.50 for a wine shipment from the Gold Medal Wine Club, listing the purchase as a “Bribe for the UNIX guys.”
A World Wide Technology spokesman said the company was cooperating with investigators. He declined further comment.
World Wide Technology, an information technology systems firm, employs 3,000 people, including about 1,500 to 1,700 in the St. Louis region. The company took in an estimated $6.7 billion in revenue last year.
The lure of strippers has ensnared at least two St. Louis-area businessmen within the past decade.
In 2006, then-Savvis Inc. Chief Executive Robert McCormick earned the nickname “lap dunce” from the New York Daily News after being accused of charging a $241,000 topless-club bill to his corporate credit card. American Express sued McCormick, Savvis and the Manhattan strip club Scores over the unpaid bill and ultimately reached a settlement. McCormick, who lived in Clayton, resigned during the investigation.
Also in 2006, Thomas B. Kurzenberger Jr., a former vice president of Title Insurer’s Agency Inc., was sentenced to six years in prison and ordered to pay nearly $6 million in customers’ money he embezzled from his family’s Clayton company. He spent $162,588 at a Sauget topless club and spent an unspecified amount of the embezzled money on cocaine, an investigation revealed.