Robert De Niro's company, Canal Productions, has sued a former employee for $6 million, accusing her of embezzling money, abusing company credit cards, and binge-watching "astounding hours of TV shows on Netflix" on company time.
The lawsuit, which was first reported by Variety, was filed in New York against Graham Chase Robinson, its former vice president of production & finance. She is accused of "breaching her fiduciary duties, violation of the faithless service doctrine and conversion."
Ironically, part of her job duties included making sure employees weren't misusing company funds. "Robinson's position required Mr. De Niro to place full faith, trust and confidence in her that she would carry out her duties and responsibilities in Canal's best interests, mindfully overseeing the finances and other employees," the lawsuit states
Robinson was initially hired as an assistant to De Niro in 2008; she was promoted to vice president of production and finance in 2017; her most recent salary was $300,000. She left the company in April, amid growing concerns about alleged "corporate sabotage."
Robinson allegedly charged hundreds of thousands of dollars in personal expenses on Canal's American Express card, improperly used the company's petty cash fund to pay for personal items, and submitted false information in order to be paid for 96 days of "unused" vacation time. She claimed she hadn't used any vacation days over a four-year period, but Canal countered that emails reveal Robinson took all her vacation days and often exceeded her time off allowance.
The suit includes several specific examples, including a 2018 trip in which she allegedly spent more than $4,000 to go to Los Angeles to pick up and deliver signed coffee table books based on De Niro's film Taxi Driver; these were to be given to various charity auctions and De Niro's friends, but the suit claims the books were actually delivered after Robinson left L.A.
The suit also alleges that Robinson made $12,696.65 in unauthorized charges at Upper East Side restaurant Paola's over a two-year period, in addition to $8,923.20 at Dean and Deluca and Whole Foods, and $32,000 for Ubers and taxis. She allegedly transferred five million frequent flyer miles valued at more than $125,000 from the company's American Express account to her own personal account.
And as for the binge-watching allegation: she allegedly spent "astronomical amounts of time” watching Netflix during work hours, including a four-day period in January 2019 when she watched 55 episodes of Friends, which the suit notes, "carried over to an impressive 32 episodes on Saturday, January 12th alone." And over a four-day period in March of this year, she allegedly watched 20 episodes of Arrested Development and 10 episodes of Schitt’s Creek.