Two plead guilty to diverting ad funds

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A promoter and a former marketing executive of Community Mutual Blue Cross and Blue Shield pleaded guilty today to federal conspiracy, fraud and tax charges for fraudulently diverting more than $3 million from the Cincinnati health insurer's printing, advertising and promotion budgets. Community Mutual paid promoter Keith D. Sprunk for services never performed in 1991 and 1992 based on falsified invoices, according to U.S. Attorney Edmund A. Sargus Jr. Mr. Sprunk used proceeds to maintain his business and finance a gambling habit, Mr. Sargus said. Harold Perlstein, former VP-corporate and market communications for Community Mutual, knowingly approved the false invoices in return for such gratuities as sports tickets and vacations totaling $130,000, Mr. Sargus said. The insurer fired Mr. Perlstein in January 1993 after an internal investigation uncovered the billing irregularities. Most of the fraudulent expenses were billed to the Caring Program for Kids sports promotion, under which the insurer provides free medical care for uninsured children, said Eric Kirkhorn, spokesman for Community Mutual. No money raised for beneficiaries of the program was affected by the scheme, Mr. Kirkhorn said, and the promotion is continuing.

NFL promo
NBC Sports for the first time will take part in the National Football League's annual fall FSI program, "America's Favorites." NBC will create a watch-and-win promotion whereby viewers will have to watch NBC's NFL Live pre-game show on Oct. 1 to see if the symbol in their FSI matches the symbol revealed during the show. The winner gets Super Bowl XXX tickets. The FSI will run in over 45 million newspapers on Oct. 1. NBC, which will begin an on-air promotion for the program on Sept. 17, also will tout its new fall lineup in the FSI. Other advertisers in the 30-plus-page insert will include Dial, Hershey's and Ocean Spray.

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