A top MoviePass executive tasked with turning around the troubled subscription service was charged in 2010 with stealing thousands of dollars from a previous employer, according to court documents obtained by Variety.
Khalid Itum admitted to charging personal expenses on a company debit card and pleaded guilty to second degree theft.
Itum was promoted in December to executive VP of MoviePass, and given control over its day-to-day operations. In interviews, he has spoken about rebuilding trust in the company, which is facing class-action lawsuits from subscribers and investors, as well as an investigation into possible fraud by New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood.
Itum describes himself as a “serial entrepreneur,” and has been involved in numerous startups, according to his LinkedIn profile.
But in 2009, he was working in furniture sales in Washington, D.C., when his boss flagged some anomalous expenses on the company Visa card, according to a criminal filing. Thomas McGuire, the president of Workspaces LLC, told investigators that Itum had used the card to make purchases at Banana Republic, Gilt.com, and Rosetta Stone.
Itum also used the company card to pay for airline tickets and his personal phone and Internet bills, all without authorization, according to an affidavit in support of an arrest warrant. The affidavit also states that Itum submitted some of those expenses for reimbursement, causing the company to be billed twice.
McGuire was the only employee with a company card and staffers who used the card were required to ask for authorization on any purchases above $25.
McGuire confronted Itum, who admitted to making some of the purchases, the affidavit states. McGuire said the money would be deducted from Itum’s future commissions, but Itum quit the company a few months later. McGuire then did an audit and discovered that Itum had racked up $36,068.16 in unapproved expenses, far more than he had previously realized, according to the document.
Itum’s attorney later admitted to the company that Itum had made personal charges, though he pegged the figure far lower, at $5,372.51.
McGuire took the case to the D.C. Police, and Itum was charged in August 2010 with felony theft, indicating that he stole at least $1,000 worth of goods. Two months later, he agreed to plead guilty to second degree theft, a misdemeanor. He was sentenced to one year of probation, 300 hours of community service, and was ordered to pay a $750 fine.
Itum does not list Workspaces on his LinkedIn page, but he does state that he worked at an “independent commercial furniture dealership” at the time. After he left the company in September 2009, he worked at MOI Inc., another furniture dealer, for about a year, followed by a stint at Skyfold, a company that sells folding partitions.
In an email, Itum said the allegations against him were “bogus and ill-intentioned.” He said that McGuire pursued the charges out of “retribution” for Itum’s decision to leave for a bigger company, and claimed that McGuire was trying to threaten his immigration status. Itum is Jordanian. According to his LinkedIn page, he ran a company providing cultural tours of Jordan prior to getting into furniture sales.
“The matter was far more complicated than is reflected in public documentation, and I had been caught in an unfortunate position between two employers,” he said in a statement. “The previous employer had sought to have charges brought against me, in an effort to jeopardize my status as an immigrant to the United States, something I had worked hard to accomplish on the basis of having ‘extraordinary ability’ and ‘being in the national interest,’ based on my work in bringing about a cross-cultural dialogue between the West and the Middle East post 9/11 during my days in graduate school and beyond.”
In a follow-up email, he said that many of the expenses were business-related, and that McGuire was aware of the personal expenses. He also claimed the company owed him tens of thousands of dollars in commissions.
“I elected to take responsibility and move on with my life,” he said. “I am glad to have it behind me and I handled it properly according to the legal system.”
A felony conviction could have resulted in Itum’s deportation. By pleading to a misdemeanor, Itum was able to remain in the U.S.
Reached on Friday, McGuire said, “The court documents speak for themselves. I have no further comment.”
MoviePass also declined to comment for this story.
Itum completed his community service at Central Union Mission, a homeless shelter. In March 2011, he asked the court to terminate his probation early so that he could attend Summit at Sea, the business conference for “millennial entrepreneurs” held on a cruise ship in the Bahamas.
At the time, Itum described himself as a partner at Pulse Strata, a consultancy on brand strategy. The court allowed him to attend the conference, but required him to complete his probation once he returned.
When reached for comment by Variety, Itum provided the names of several colleagues and associates as character references. One, Kerry Gabler, worked with Itum at WorkSpaces and recruited him to join MOI. Although Gabler did not address the specifics of the Itum’s legal issues with WorkSpaces, she said he was an exemplary employee.
“I’ve always seen him as an ethical person,” she said. “He’s passionate about what he does and he’s a great strategist. He definitely had a reputation for being a leader and a creative force.”
WorkSpaces filed for bankruptcy in 2013. Itum signed on as an adviser to MoviePass in 2014. As executive vice president, he is in charge of integrating MoviePass with Moviefone and MoviePass Ventures, as well as restoring the company’s tattered image.
MoviePass experienced explosive growth when it slashed its monthly subscription price to $9.95 in 2017. But the company hemorrhaged money as subscribers took advantage of the chance to see up to one movie per day. MoviePass tried to reduce its losses by putting certain films off limits, and imposed other restrictions that led to a consumer backlash.
In an interview with Variety in December, Itum predicted that MoviePass could rebound and win back trust.
“MoviePass can be a great name again by doing the hard work of being very transparent and open and not only apologizing, but fixing the product,” he said.
Ted Johnson contributed to this story.