De Niro company claims ex-worker binged 'astounding' hours of Netflix on job, sues for $6 million

The former employee of Robert De Niro's Canal Productions also transferred millions of company frequent flyer miles to her personal account, the lawsuit claims.
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Robert De Niro on April 24, 2019 on Today.Nathan Congleton / TODAY

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By Doha Madani and Diana Dasrath

Robert De Niro's company, Canal Productions, filed a lawsuit Saturday against a former employee asking for $6 million for allegedly "breaching her fiduciary duties."

The employee allegedly charged hundreds of thousands of dollars of personal expenses on the company card, transferred millions of company frequent flyer miles to her own account and spent hours of work time binge-watching Netflix, among other allegations in the lawsuit seen by NBC News.

The company is suing Graham Chase Robinson, its former vice president of production & finance, for "breaching her fiduciary duties, violation of the faithless service doctrine and conversion," according the complaint filed in New York. Robinson was promoted to her position around 2017, which included the task of assuring employees weren't misusing company funds per De Niro's own request, according to the lawsuit.

"Robinson's position required Mr. De Niro to place full faith, trust and confidence in her that she would carry out her duties and responsibilities in Canal's best interests, mindfully overseeing the finances and other employees," the lawsuit said.

But Robinson allegedly charged hundreds of thousands of dollars in personal expenses on Canal's American Express card, improperly used the company's petty cash fund to pay for personal items, submitted false information in order to be paid for 96 days of "unused" vacation time, and spent company time "binge-watching astounding hours of TV shows on Netflix."

"For example, over the 4-day period between Tuesday, January 8 and Friday, January 11, 2019, 55 episodes of 'Friends' were accessed (which carried over to an impressive 32 episodes on Saturday, January 12 alone)," the lawsuit said.

A 2018 trip to Los Angeles was at least one instance of allegedly misusing company funds stated in the lawsuit.

Robinson allegedly spent more than $4,000 on the trip and used frequent flyer miles from Canal Productions because she claimed she needed to go to Los Angeles to pick up and deliver signed coffee table books based on De Niro's film "Taxi Driver," to be given to various charity auctions and De Niro's friends.

In fact, the books were delivered after Robinson left Los Angeles, according to the lawsuit. Canal Productions claimed Robinson racked up the expenses on luxury meals and accommodations to attend a birthday party.

Robinson also allegedly used company money to pay for approximately $32,000 in personal taxi and Uber rides, and transferred five million frequent flyer miles valued at more than $125,000 from the company's American Express account to her own personal account, the lawsuit alleged.

The suit also claimed Robinson approved her own expense reports to pay for items such as iPhones, a Louis Vuitton handbag, groceries from Whole Foods, and a dog sitter.

She also allegedly told the company's accountant that she hadn't taken any of her vacation days for nearly four years and instead took a pay out for the "unused" days. Canal Productions claims that emails reveal Robinson took all her vacation days and often exceeded her time off allowance.

"As a result of foregoing, Robinson collected in excess of $70,000 by falsely claiming that she had not used 96 vacation days between 2014 and 2018," the lawsuit stated.

Robinson had a $300,000 salary by the time she resigned in April 2019.

The lawsuit seeks $3 million in damages for Robinson's "disloyalty and violation or the faithless servant doctrine," and another $3 million in damages for the value of funds and property "misappropriated" by Robinson while at the company.

Robinson did not immediately respond to a request for comment from NBC News.