Sandi Adler, a former employee of Starboard Group, which happens to be a large Wendy’s operator, has spilled all the tea regarding the franchisee’s chief executive, who she claims diverted $1 million in Paycheck Protection Program loans to foot the bill for his mansion in Montana.
Adler, who served as Starboard’s vice president of legal affairs and human resources before being fired on June 1st for complaining about the bogus practices, filed the complaint on June 30th in Broward County under Florida’s whistleblower statute. In her complaint, she alleges that Starboard was granted about $9 million in PPP loans to be used for operations of their 101 Wendy’s locations across seven states. They also oversee 3,200 employees.
According to Adler’s suit, Starboard CEO Andrew Levy ordered her to list some of his personal employees in Montana as corporate employees, CNBC reports.
“The effect of this, in view of the PPP funding, was to defraud the United States and the Small Business Administration,” the complaint stated.
Additionally, Levy also demanded Adler to lie to creditors, vendors, suppliers, and landlords and tell them Starboard couldn’t meet its financial commitments because it had not received assistance via PPP loans.
The PPP is a federal program implemented to assist struggling businesses with less than 500 employees. However, major hotel and restaurant chains were granted exemptions following the coronavirus pandemic, which created hardships for many businesses. The Government Accountability Office has expressed concerns about companies defrauding the program. In May, two New England men were the first to be charged with scamming the program.
The complaint also states that Adler’s superior Kevin Holbrook sexually harassed her while she was an employee before ultimately firing her. When she came forward about the harassment, Levy allegedly ignored her.
The former employee is seeking restitution for her lost wages and compensatory damages for “pain and suffering.”