Alyssa Milano’s former accountant says she and her husband are to blame for an out-of-control home remodeling project that damaged their credit rating and left them deeply in debt.
Last month, Milano and her husband, agent David Bugliari, filed a $10 million lawsuit against their former business manager, Kenneth Hellie. They claim that Hellie forged their signatures, failed to pay their taxes on time, and steered them into bad investments — including some in which he was also an investor. The suit also claimed that Hellie mismanaged the remodeling of their home, allowing the project’s cost to balloon to $5 million.
But in a cross-complaint, Hellie says that his firm, Hellie Hoffer, issued repeated warnings that the project was going over budget. When the remodeling began in 2013, the budget was $1.1 million. But as it went on, the scope expanded. Hellie contends that Bugliari personally requested and approved each of the additional expenditures, despite Hellie’s advice to rein in the project.
The complaint quotes from a Jan. 16, 2014, communication in which Hellie Hoffer stated the firm was “very concerned” that the project was “way over the original budget,” and advised of the need to “get this project back on track as far as costs.”
By July 18, 2014, the budget had grown to $2.6 million, and the firm warned that “additions to the budget need to stop, there is no more money,” according to Hellie’s filing. On Dec. 5, 2014, the firm warned that “cash is very low” and advised the couple not to begin additional work. The communication also noted that the couple’s 2013 taxes were due and unpaid.
Hellie contends that the firm communicated with Bugliari several times in March 2015 about the troubling state of their financial affairs. He contends that Milano did not attend an in-person meeting “apparently to avoid responsibility for her own affairs.” In one discussion, the firm raised concerns that Milano was not acknowledging the situation. Hellie says that Bugliari replied, “I don’t think she understands.”
The suit contends that Bugliari, a CAA agent, declined to use his “own money” to pay down the couple’s debts and other obligations, and states that he may have been “intentionally or negligently keeping Milano in the dark regarding the couple’s deteriorating finances.”
Hellie also accuses the couple of continuing to “live lavishly” even as the remodeling project drained their bank accounts. According to the complaint, this included “spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on a second home in the mountains, private planes, a country club membership, a boat, and numerous personal staff such as multiple nannies and housekeepers.”
Ellyn Garofalo, the couple’s attorney, has previously said that they lived a “relatively modest lifestyle.”
Garofalo called the countersuit a “nasty and ill-conceived effort to drive a wedge between Alyssa and her husband. Nothing could better exemplify Mr. Hellie’s dismissive and unprofessional disregard of his clients’ best interests.”
She also dismissed the warnings that Hellie says he issued: “Warnings, to the extent these are warnings, are useless when made after the damage is done. Their own allegations make clear that most of the relevant information – such as their shell game with client loans – was never disclosed.”
Hellie’s cross-complaint does not address the couple’s allegations of forgery, fraud, and conflict of interest, though he did file a generic denial of their original suit. Hellie’s attorney, Randall Dean, declined to comment.