NEW YORK (AP) – American Express has sued the CEO of a communications company for payment of $241,000 worth of disputed credit card charges at the Manhattan topless club Scores.

American Express says in papers filed in State Supreme Court in Manhattan that Savvis Inc. chief executive officer Robert A. McCormick was in the strip club in October, 2003 with at least three other men.

After McCormick got the $241,000 corporate credit card bill, Savvis called American Express and complained that some of the charges were fraudulent, the lawsuit says. The communications company said its chief disputed all but about $20,000, according to the lawsuit.

Deena Williamson, Savvis’s deputy general counsel, said, “We firmly believe that Mr. McCormick was the victim of fraud.” She declined to comment further.

Lonnie Hanover, a Scores spokesman, said he had not talked to all of the employees involved with McCormick and could not say what the CEO purchased.

However, Hanover said after a similar lawsuit last year that “high rollers” visiting “our super elite Presidents’ Club” spend thousands of dollars on single bottles of champagne and tip strippers as much as $10,000 for lap dances and for spending time with them.

The lawsuit filed Wednesday against McCormick and Savvis is at least the third in the past two years involving contested credit card charges at Scores. One patron sued the club after he got a $28,000 bill and another disputed $129,000 in charges.

The Manhattan district attorney’s office has said it is investigating alleged overcharging at Scores.

Hanover said that each time a patron spends $10,000, Scores calls their credit card company to get the charges approved. Scores even fingerprints the customer and requires him to get on the telephone with a credit card representative, he said.

“We got authorization for all of the charges,” Hanover said of McCormick’s visit. “We followed proper procedures and documentation, and we were paid.”

Court papers say American Express asked McCormick several times to provide in writing his basis for calling the charges fraudulent. McCormick failed to respond and when he was billed again he once again objected to the charges, the lawsuit says.

American Express says McCormick finally responded in writing in September, 2004, reiterating that some charges on the Scores bill were bogus, the lawsuit says.

Scores has been paid in full, American Express’s court papers say, while “neither Savvis nor McCormick has paid any of the charges.” Failure to pay is a violation of the American Express corporate credit card agreement, court papers say.

An American Express spokeswoman, Judy Tenzer, said she had no comment.


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