Alyssa Milano Says Business Manager Led Her Into Financial Ruin

Alyssa Milano
Chelsea Lauren/Variety/REX/Shutterstock

Alyssa Milano has filed a $10 million lawsuit accusing her former business manager of severe misconduct that caused her to spiral into a financial disaster.

The suit accuses accountant Kenneth Hellie and his firm, Hellie, Hoffer & Co., of forging her signature on checks, failing to pay overdue bills and taxes, and inducing her to make bad investments in businesses in which he was also an investor, without disclosing the conflict.

Hellie’s actions, according to the suit, left Milano and her husband, talent agent David Bugliari, “with millions of dollars in debt and their credit in ruins.”

The suit was filed Friday in L.A. Superior Court in Van Nuys. Reached by phone on Saturday, Hellie declined to discuss the specifics.

“I’d like to say something,” he said. “Obviously a lot of it’s like the Johnny Depp situation. I can’t say anything just yet.”


Johnny Depp Labyrinth

Johnny Depp Sues Former Business Managers for $25 Million

Depp is currently engaged in a legal war with his former managers, who have accused him of destroying his finances through reckless spending. Depp contends that his managers engaged in “gross misconduct” and has sued for $25 million.

“We anticipated this defense,” said Milano’s attorney, Ellyn Garofalo, a partner at Liner LLP. “Nothing could be further from reality. Alyssa and David live a relatively modest lifestyle centered on their family. It is unfortunate that Mr. Hellie finds it appropriate to blame the clients who trusted him rather than take responsibility for his own negligence and misconduct.”

Milano alleges that her financial woes began with a “home improvement debacle.” Milano says that Hellie’s poor oversight of the remodeling job caused costs to spiral. She ended up spending $5 million, though the home is worth no more than $3 million. She also says her accountants failed to notify her of Ventura County building code violations, which lingered for more than five years, resulting in a lien and $376,950 in fines.

The overspending on the renovation project led to other financial difficulties. In February 2016, Milano received a notice of default due to an unpaid mortgage payment. Milano says she learned that eight mortgage payments were late in a 13-month period. The late payments and the lien damaged her credit score to the point where she was unable to refinance her home to pay off debts, she alleges.

Milano alleges that her business manager also failed to pay her federal income taxes in 2013 and 2014, instead funneling money into the remodeling project, incurring penalties and interest. Milano says her employees also complained of late payments, and that Hellie failed to pay her employees’ taxes.


Alanis Morissette'Transparent' TV show FYC screening, Arrivals, Los Angeles, USA - 22 Apr 2017

Business Manager Who Stole From Alanis Morissette Sentenced to Six Years in Prison

As money got tight, Milano claims that Hellie engaged in a “shell game” with clients’ money, initiating loans between clients to keep each one solvent. Milano alleges that Hellie had her borrow funds from some clients while lending to others, all at high interest rates.

She also alleges that Hellie used Milano’s funds to prop up his own investments. On four occasions, she says, Hellie transferred money out of her account without obtaining her signature. Instead, she says he scotch-taped her signature onto the wire authorization. She alleges that without her authorization, Hellie invested $351,000 of her money into a parking lot venture that has yet to generate any income. She says Hellie did not disclose that he was also an investor in the property.

Throughout, Milano says she continued to receive assurances that her finances were healthy. In 2014, she turned down appearing in the third season of the ABC show “Mistresses.” The season would have paid her $1.3 million, and she says she may have negotiated an even more lucrative deal for the fourth season. Had she known how dire her finances truly were, the suit states she “would never have turned down” the job.

After firing Hellie in June 2016, Milano says that Hellie demanded a $26,000 payment for “professional services,” which she refused to pay. So, she alleges that Hellie forged her signature on a check in that amount. She says she and her husband did not discover the theft until they overdrew their account. She says that Hellie paid another $25,000 from Milano’s account in “interest” to two other clients for loans that Milano and her husband never received.

Filed Under:

Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 42

Leave a Reply


Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

  1. Let’s assume everything she is saying is true. It sounds like the guy is a criminal. Does it excuse her being an idiot for so long regarding the finances along with her husband. Something is rotten in Denmark, and not just with the money handler.

  2. Lesson here: don’t listen to celebrity advice. It’s not surprise that a hollywood liberal cannot handle money… Much like Depp.

    Oh, and if you’re rich find a freaking CPA and CFA to keep your finances in order. Sometimes it’s a good idea to have multiple ones to double check/not have conflicts of interest.

  3. Mister Goldiloxx says:

    I can’t imagine being in a position to turn down $1.3 million for a few months work.
    That must be nice…

  4. Maxwell says:

    And this dingbat was trying to advise others on what ‘they’ should do? Lol

  5. denisdee says:

    Maybe she should stop being so obsessed with bashing the President and start managing her own finances

  6. John says:

    I’m surprised she hasn’t started blaming Trump for her stupid decisions yet, like her idiot liberal hollywood friend Kathy Griffin did. Ironic also how she has been so outspoken about Trump revealing his own taxes, when she wasn’t monitoring her own. Another typical example of a lazy hollywood liberal who won’t take personal responsibility, but then again, she’s busy living a “modest” life in a 3 mil home, poor thing. And hollywood wonders how Trump won the election. They’re so far out of touch with reality it’s beyond sad.

  7. DocScience says:

    Good thing that Donald Trump isn’t running the IRS.

  8. Jah WP says:

    No sympathy for these types. Play stupid games, win stupid prizes….

  9. B says:

    Unfortunately trust involving Your money should Never be given. It is easy to stay in the dark about your bills When all the bills go to the
    Business manager. Oprah had the best system
    Even though she was working on TV at the time:
    She said Every Week Sit with the manager NO payments for Anything can be made Without My Signature Only!

  10. Not saying she’s not being truthful about everything, but some of it doesn’t add up. Eight months late on mortgage irrevocably ruins credit history and chances of improving it? I’d say it was more complicated than that. Wouldn’t she be informed she owned taxes after a few years of not paying them?

  11. rhughsirius says:

    Hopefully, Milano can sell her hideous tattoos.

  12. Randy Lahey says:

    What a fool. Uppity Liberal Hollywood Snob. On no! Who will get all of the “has-been-who-relied-on-her-looks-because-she-has-no-real-acting-ability” roles that she was too good for now if she goes away? She needs to grow up, take some responsibility for not caring about her own finances and just stop blaming other people. I hate this woman.

  13. Tara says:

    How can 10 million ruin her..she is worth over45 million.

    • ymcpa says:

      She is not worth anywhere near $45 million. Where did you get that? One of those site that claim you will be amazed how much this celebrity is worth? They also seem to know the IQs without ever testing them.

  14. Seattle Kevin says:

    You lost me at… “Alyssa and David live a relatively modest lifestyle…”

  15. James says:

    I am a CPA.

    Let me say this…. There is no excuse for the failure of a CPA firm to not file the client’s taxes. Obviously, the client has to sign the returns, so she should expect there is something wrong if it’s tax season and is ot asked to sign returns. She’s 40+ years old and has been paying taxes for most of her life.

    Also, CPA firms are not trained to manage real property renovations…”Out of Scope” services…You need a construction manager to do that. I am not an expert on drywall or flooring.

    • ymcpa says:

      From what I’ve read, it seams the returns were filed. The articles don’t say the returns weren’t filed. They just says that she owed back taxes and penalties. It seams she just didn’t have enough money to pay the taxes due.

  16. If celebrities don’t want to or don’t know how to evaluate the handling of their money by a management company, they should hire an independent CPA to go over their account books at least every six months to a year. Just to make sure that the CPA doesn’t get pulled into the scheme/scam, change CPA’s just like you change passwords on your accounts. The CPA will do a full evaluation and get copies of everything. If you can afford “staff” then a CPA is one staff member you can’t afford not to have. If something is amiss, they will flag the celeb before they seriously go under. This isn’t the first time celebrity managers have abused their clients; the entertainment industry is rife with these kinds of predators. Mick Jagger assumed the management responsibilities for himself and later for the Stones because of just this sort of thing. And before that, Doris Day was taken to the cleaners by a manager. In more recent times the Goo Goo Dolls had to sue their manager for the handling their affairs and to get them out of a very predatory contract. There needs to be some kind of failsafe to protect performers from this particular class of bottom feeders. And for those who are blaming the victim I say, “You can’t be all things to all people.” One commenter has it right: Milano paid that management company to take care of business and they didn’t to it. Instead, they used opportunism to embezzle and capriciously handle her money and affairs. They need to be made to make her whole again even if that means they end up busking on a street corner for the money.

    • ymcpa says:

      From what I’ve read, it seams the returns were filed. The articles don’t say the returns weren’t filed. They just says that she owed back taxes and penalties. It seams she just didn’t have enough money to pay the taxes due.

    • InTheBellyOfTheBeast says:

      You’re as big an idiot as is Milano and her husband. This dope doesn’t pay attention to her finances but has plenty of time to constantly tweet moronic political statements, in classic limousine liberal style. Have to admit, this story made my day. I hope she ends up out on the street, living in a cardboard box.

  17. James Brigham (Bigg) Bunyon says:

    Idiot. This sort of thing doesn’t happen in a vacuum, it takes total denial and utter irresponsibility and disinterest on the part of the “victim”. Until they realize they’ve been scammed, then they start paying attention.

  18. Joshua Lynch says:

    How does this group define modest? They have a modest living while doing a 5+ million dollar renovation on their home worth 3 million. That is not modest by anybody’s definition. Just more out of touch people.

  19. Conspiracy says:

    you have 2 kids to raise and work 10 hours a day…but not everyday. Pretty much a normal workload but with much higher pay. You can’t manage your own finances? You need “employees”? It takes maybe 2 hours a week. Shit Bill Murray has no agent, no accountant, does it all himself and that’s an in demand A list actor, not some part time tv witch. What a moron.

  20. Ellie says:

    Not a fan of AM and seems like the poor decisions were mainly her own.

    However, several comments address her choice not to do a third season of “Mistresses.” Think she could have thought she had the luxury of turning down work that meant commuting/moving based on an inadequate knowledge of her finances. Thus, at the time, she might not have said, “I have enough money to stay in LA.” That being said, if I were a moderately talented actress of a certain age, not sure I would turn down work in a series.

  21. biff wadlinger says:

    She’s an idiot. If it wasn’t for her piss-poor acting, she’d be on the street corner beating a bucket.

  22. Joe says:

    You want to live in la la Land this is what happens, how do you not know how much money you have? Ask Donald Trump for a loan he’s got plenty of money, if that’s below you sell your ass!

  23. anima69316 says:

    I figure these companies would have better reputations by now they been doing this to celebrities for many decades. It seems like there were so many red flags for her to intervene beforehand.

  24. Ivonne Whitaker says:


  25. Tommy Martin says:

    Sorry to say but by Milano’s own admission as to why she did not return to Mistresses had nothing to do with money. She stated publicly that after having her children she was not going to commute to Vancouver where the show was being shot for the third season. Next on the list how stupid do you have to be not to look over your own finances periodically? Taking someone’s word for it is nothing but pure ignorance on her part. As for code violations that actually is the responsibility of the homeowner not the business manager. The homeowner has to get approval with building permits or the builder. Just how stupid is this woman?

  26. Leonie1988 says:

    She is obviously the victim here, how can any commenters say anything else? She paid the man to do a job and he didn’t. He did the opposite. Plain and simple.

    • ymcpa says:

      The job of a business manager is to pay the bills, get insurance, and give financial advice. You can’t pay the bills if there isn’t enough money in the bank. When that happens, you prioritize. Some bills get paid and some get put off. It certainly isn’t their job to manage a home renovation project. That is what a general contractor is for. The main complaint here is that the home remodel went way over budget and that led to their financial problems. Do you really believe that the business manager kept ordering more improvements to the home? He isn’t going to live there. Most likely, the general contractor kept talking alyssa into making more expensive improvements. Anyone who has done a remodel on their homes knows that the contractors constantly tell you how they can improve the bathrooms, kitchen, and every part of the house even though you only asked them to work on a particle room.

    • George Lewis says:

      We don’t know both sides of the story. We haven’t seen specific evidence. Only a court can decide.

      That said, if I was placing a gambling bet right now, I’d bet on Alyssa as the winner.

      • ymcpa says:

        I think you would lose that bet. I guarantee you that the business managers has dozens of emails that show Milano approved the remodel job. I’m sure there are also dozens of emails telling them there is insufficient funds to pay all their bills.

  27. Apres says:

    Even Bill Cosby says sign your own checks! Trust NO ONE in Show Business when it comes to money!

  28. Skeptic says:

    Why didn’t she take responsibility for her life like a sane adult? She didn’t check to make sure her taxes were paid each year? She didn’t realize her own house was undergoing millions of dollars of improperly done renovations? And what was her husband doing and thinking, as well?

  29. Diana says:

    Kives, Bugliari, and CAA took advantage of her.

  30. pul says:

    This is what happens when you let someone else control your life. I mean I’m sure the city tried to get in contact with her for the lien, but she had an assistant or someone in control of her mail and daily life activities. Plain dumb.

  31. Haz says:

    Didn’t she leave Mistresses due to it moving from LA to Canada in order to cut costs? This will get interesting.

    • Tommy Martin says:

      Exactly ! She said numerous times in interviews she was not going to uproot her children or commute since the youngest at the time was less than 6 months old.

      • Fardarie D. Lawrence says:

        At the time she thought her monies were secure and she could afford to quit her job. That’s why she said this stuff. Had she had known the true nature of her finances she would have uprooted the kids or communted. Her argument is valid.

More Biz News from Variety