Dunkin' Donuts franchise owners today called for new oversight over the Canton coffee chain following the federal indictment last week of a former company executive allegedly involved in a kickback scheme.
According to the indictment filed in US District Court in Boston, Carolyn Kravetz, 42 , Dunkin's former director of external communications, steered contract work totaling $400,000 to a close college friend, Boris Levitin, in exchange for 50 percent of his gross receipts between August 2004 and October 2005. Levitin, 43, was self-employed, doing business as Luminophore, providing graphic design, technical publishing, and information system services.
Kravetz allegedly authorized payments for $396,875, including payment in full for multiple projects in which Levitin had performed no work. In turn ,Levitin kicked back to Kravetz roughly $200,000, according to court records. The funds Dunkin' paid to Luminophore came from the ad fund, which is financed by contributions from all Dunkin' Donuts franchisees, according to the Dunkin' Donuts Independent Franchise Owners, the largest association of franchise owners in the US.
Kravetz and Levitin were charged with six counts of mail fraud, and Kravetz was charged separately with two additional counts of subscribing a false tax return.
Kravetz, reached by cell phone, declined to discuss the matter and referred questions to her lawyer, Joseph Balliro, who did not return calls seeking comment.
Jeffrey Licthman, Levitin's lawyer, said his client returned all of the money paid to him and Kravetz.
Stephen Caldeira, Dunkin' Brand's chief communications office, said in a statement that Kravetz was responsible for day-to-day communication with print and broadcast media, as well as supporting the marketing staff in promotion of new products and offers.
The Dunkin' franchise association, in a press release today, demanded greater controls over the franchisee ad fund by franchisees and regular audits by an independent certified public accountant that are made available to all franchisees.