Ex-PA Denies Stealing $900K From Hedge Fund Manager

Mar 2 2012 | 6:58am ET

Hedge fund manager Todd Meister has accused his former personal assistant of stealing almost $1 million from him.

But Meister, better known as the son of former Aon Group executive Robert Meister and the ex-husband of socialite Nicky Hilton—herself best known as the sister of reality television star Paris Hilton—was more than Renata Shamrakova's boss, her lawyer said. Mark Agnifilo suggested that the two had a sexual relationship after his client pleaded not guilty yesterday in Manhattan state court.

Prosecutors charged Shamrakova, who worked for Meister from March 2011 until January, with grand larceny. They say that Shamrakova and her boyfriend opened a pair of American Express card accounts in Meister's name, racking up $900,000 in charges for vacations all around the world. Shamrakova also allegedly bought thousands of pieces of jewelry for an online business she ran with her boyfriend, now co-defendant, Michael Smaye.

Shamrakova then paid off some of the debt with $500,000 from Meister's checking account, using it as her own "personal piggy bank," Assistant District Attorney Cory Jacobs said.

Shamrakova faces as much as seven years in prison if convicted, and prosecutors said they would insist on at least one year in the clink for the Russian-born American citizen, even if she pays Meister back.

Agnifilo said the charges were made "with [Meister's] consent" and that he is "investigating the possibility that there was a romantic component" to their relationship.

"It's a he-said, she-said," he said. "He said this is a theft. She said it is not because there was a relationship."

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