Star drummer Robin DiMaggio accused of embezzling $750,000 from charity for homeless kids

Prosecutors said DiMaggio, who was music director for an Arsenio Hall show, used part of the money to buy his ex-wife a house.
Robin DiMaggio
Robin DiMaggio attends the 22nd Annual Beat the Odds Awards on Dec. 6, 2012, in Beverly Hills.Richard Shotwell / Invision/AP file

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By Alex Johnson

LOS ANGELES — Robin DiMaggio, a star drummer who has performed with many of the most famous names in music, has been charged with embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars from a charity concert for homeless and displaced children in the world's conflict zones, prosecutors said.

DiMaggio, 47, of the Woodland Hills neighborhood of Los Angeles, was arrested Friday on a single felony charge of wire fraud. He was released on $40,000 bond and must wear a tracking device pending a preliminary hearing and arraignment next month in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, the U.S. attorney's office said late Monday afternoon.

No court documents were available identifying an attorney for DiMaggio, who has been the music director for several United Nations events and was the drummer and music director for Arsenio Hall's second late-night talk show, which ran for one season on CBS in 2013-14. A phone number for a person listed as his agent was disconnected.

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The U.S. attorney's office said DiMaggio offered to help secure top-tier artists for a charity concert for the Peace for You Peace for Me Foundation, a Bulgaria-based nonprofit, to raise money for homeless and displaced children from conflict zones around the world.

Prosecutors said the foundation's financial sponsor wired $750,000 to a DiMaggio-controlled account in August 2016 as a guarantee for future payments, which DiMaggio promised to place in escrow account and use only to pay the artists.

But DiMaggio never set up the escrow account, prosecutor said. Instead, he deposited the money in a personal bank account and used it to pay for cars, credit card debt, living expenses and a quarter-million-dollar home for his ex-wife, prosecutors said.

None of the money was sent to the artists, according to prosecutors. But when the foundation's financial sponsor demanded the money back, DiMaggio reported by email that he had sent the deposit to the artists as agreed, they said.

Los Angeles County Superior Court records show that in December 2016, the sponsor sued DiMaggio, who filed for bankruptcy. The financial sponsor was awarded a $1.2 million summary judgment in bankruptcy court but that judgment hadn't been formally entered by the court as of last week, according to the records.

A scheduling conference in the bankruptcy is scheduled for March. Records in that case indicate that DiMaggio represented himself without an attorney who could be called for comment on Monday.

DiMaggio has performed with a wide range of musicians across a variety of musical styles in a career spanning more than 30 years. The music publication All About Jazz described him as "a superior percussionist with a deep appreciation for the world's musical styles."

Among the performers he has worked with are Paul Simon, Diana Ross, Dr. Dre, David Bowie, Jackson Browne, Tupac Shakur, Luther Vandross, Lil Jon, Martina McBride, Daft Punk, Johnny Cash and Ravi Shankar.