Silvio Scaglia, the estranged husband of businesswoman and reality TV star Julia Haart, is waging a ‘crusade to destroy her,’ by falsely accusing her of misappropriating millions from the company they once shared while he himself used it as a personal slush fund and propped up a life of private yachts, jets, jewels and excess on the company dime.
These are the explosive allegations made today by Scaglia’s former executive assistant turned whistleblower, Tania Cohen, 54.
On Friday Cohen submitted an affidavit in support of a lawsuit filed by Haart in New York State’s Supreme Court in which Haart alleges that Scaglia spent over $20million from the couple’s joint modeling firm, Elite World Group (EWG).
Silvio Scaglia’s former executive assistant Tania Cohen (left) is throwing her support behind his estranged wife, Julia Haart, (pictured right in 2017) in an affidavit submitted on Friday backing her lawsuit
Cohen claims her former boss ‘falsely accused’ Haart of misappropriating millions from their company, all while using funds to support a life of luxury for himself and his new fiancée Michelle Marie Heinemann
Now, speaking exclusively to DailyMail.com, Cohen, who worked for Scaglia, 64, at his now defunct investment company SHS Asset Management LLC from January 2022 to November 2022, has revealed the depth of Scaglia’s ‘growing vendetta’ against the woman he once claimed to love as detailed in her affidavit.
She has dismissed her former boss, the chairman of EWG, as ‘an empty suit’ who contributed little to the company which grew from $70million to a valuation of $1billion while Haart was CEO.
And she has painted the picture of an ‘erratic and paranoid’ man who siphoned off millions of dollars of company funds to pay for a life of leisure and luxury with new fiancée Michelle Marie Heinemann, 56.
‘I’m coming forward after much deliberation and at great risk because after everything I came to learn I knew it was just the right thing to do,’ Cohen told DailyMail.com.
Cohen had no direct dealings with Haart when she worked for Scaglia who told her at her December 2021 interview that he and Haart, 51, ‘lived separate lives.’
But, she said: ‘His obsession with going after Julia grew every day.
‘He deliberately cut her off from her income and her livelihood with the objective of starving her out of her home and her finances.
According to Cohen and her affidavit, Scaglia used funds from Elite World Group (EWG) to pay for a French Polynesian yacht trip (pictured) with Heinemann, transferring $132,435 to Burgess Yachts in Tahiti and $16,000 to pay for two business class airfares for the couple in September 2022
That same month, Cohen claims she saw a wire payment of $342,000 from his holding company to pay for a heart-shaped diamond engagement ring (right) for Heinemann
Scaglia had claimed the company was in financial distress but at the same time was paying for private jets, helicopters, and private yacht charters, among other luxuries, his former assistant said
‘He believed she could never withstand the cost of her attorneys and the lawsuits [that he filed]. He believed he would win by default.
‘It was truly disturbing to witness. Silvio was portraying her as a thief and an incompetent executive who left Elite in financial distress, but in turn he’s spending [millions] not only on legal fees but on his lifestyle which was just excessive.’
Cohen worked for Scaglia at his now defunct investment company SHS Asset Management LLC from January 2022 to November 2022
Viewers of the second season of Haart’s Netflix show, ‘My Unorthodox Life’ – which charts the mother-of-four’s extraordinary success having escaped an ultraorthodox life in Monsey, New Jersey’s Hasidic community – bore witness to the catastrophic demise of her three-year marriage to Scaglia.
Haart was blindsided when, in February 2022, her husband filed for divorce then moved to carve her out of the business they had shared.
Until then the couple, who married in 2019, had seemed to build an empire together.
Self-proclaimed billionaire Scaglia met and fell in love with Haart in 2016 when she was the creative director of La Perla, a company he had acquired some years earlier.
He went on to make her CEO of EWG.
But in a handful of days last February Scaglia aggressively set about dismantling Haart’s home life, reputation, and career.
Scaglia brought two cases accusing Haart of wrongfully removing millions from EWG for her personal use. (Both cases were later dismissed with prejudice meaning they cannot be brought again in a settlement that saw neither side pay any money).
For Cohen, who had only worked for Scaglia for one month at this time, it was a ‘baptism of fire.’
She explained: ‘The office job was quiet the first few weeks then it was just a baptism of fire.
‘He was actively painting this picture of Julia, saying she’s horrible, she’s manipulative, she’s lying. I’m new. I had no words. I didn’t know Julia.’
Haart married Scaglia in 2019 and the entrepreneurial couple built an empire together. She was fired as CEO of Elite World Group in February 2022, hours before she filed for divorce
Cohen claims she witnessed Scaglia become ‘obsessed’ with taking down his estranged wife and wanted to ‘starve her out of her home and her finances’
Photos and court documents obtained by DailyMail.com in July 2022 revealed alleged business backstabbing and the couple’s fights over lavish properties and luxury cars, including Haart’s $340,000 custom Bentley Mulsanne
But Cohen quickly found herself roped into finding evidence to support the public claims Scaglia had already made regarding Haart’s ‘theft’ including one supposed withdrawal of $850,000.
She said: ‘He called up Elite World Group and gave me authorization to go through all of Julia’s emails and her surrounding team’s.’
But the more she looked, the more apparent it became to Cohen that Haart had done nothing wrong.
She said: ‘I didn’t find anything. It was disturbing and it was contradicting what he was telling me to find. I did say once, I can’t see any money having left without anyone knowing about it. I can’t see any money having left, period. All the bills were paid internally, approved internally.
‘Everyone knew about it, everything was budgeted. I saw audits. There were no red flags…I realized there’s nothing to find. It was truly disturbing to see the vendetta that he had for her.’
And while Cohen found nothing out of the ordinary in Haart’s use of company funds, as enshrined in her affidavit, she found a wealth of irregularities in Scaglia’s.
She said: ‘He was claiming the company was in financial distress and in turn the company is paying for private jets, helicopters, private yacht charters, private chefs, two brand new Bentley’s for him and his fiancée, live-in household staff, jewelry, luxury hotels, luxury car rentals, find dining, first class Emirates flights to Dubai which he splashed all over Instagram, a vacation home in Mexico, his apartment in the city and now he’s fixing up his fiancée’s home – major repairs – all on the company dime.’
Freedom Holding Inc (FHI) is a holding company owned jointly by Scaglia and Haart which owns EWG and various other entities.
According to her affidavit, in September 2022 Cohen saw a wire payment of $342,000 from FHI to GEMCO to pay for a heart-shaped diamond engagement ring that later appeared on the finger of Scaglia’s fiancée, Heinemann.
Cohen claims that EWG footed the bill for two Bentleys; one for himself and one for his fiancée
The affidavit provides a laundry list of alleged misappropriations of company funds. For example, in July 2022, EWG and FHI funds allegedly paid more than $400,000 for a lavish yacht trip in Italy for Scaglia, Heinemann and her two children
According to Cohen, that same month, Scaglia used EWG funds to pay for a French Polynesian yacht trip with Heinemann, transferring $132,435 to Burgess Yachts in Tahiti, $16,000 to pay for two business class airfares for the couple, $4,600 to use the private lounge at Los Angeles airport and $400 for a car service to transport Heinemann from her home in upstate New York.
In July 2022 EWG and FHI funds paid more than $400,000 for a lavish yacht trip in Italy for Scaglia, Heinemann and her two children – a bill that, Cohen claims, included first class airfares on Emirates for all of them.
Cohen claims that EWG paid rent on Scaglia’s midtown apartment totaling $43,000 a month for one year, paid the salaries of his personal driver and housekeeper and footed the bill for two Bentleys; one for himself, with an initial deposit of $23,437.50 and monthly payments of $5,117.41 ,and one for his fiancée, initially on a lease with a similar deposit and ultimately with a full price purchase bringing the total spent on the vehicle to $272,971.87.
Meanwhile, in a move described by Cohen as motivated entirely by ‘spite’ Scaglia set out to take Haart’s Bentley from her.
First, he accused her of ‘stealing’ the vehicle which he claimed was a company car.
In fact, Cohen attests in her affidavit, this was not true. Haart had trustingly allowed Scaglia to put the lease in his sole name even though she traded in her own car, a Range Rover, to pay the $112,000 deposit.
Ultimately Scaglia broke the lease on the Bentley which he could have simply transferred to Haart.
Cohen explained: ‘He returned it. He did it out of pure spite. Julia had designed the car herself and he knew she had an attachment and love for it. He knew it would hurt her if he took it away.’
According to Cohen, during her time in his employment Scaglia also obtained a $10million loan from EWG to fund his company SHS Asset Management LLC.
He had previously tried to get this money via a second mortgage on the marital home – a request denied by the bank.
Scaglia then shut down SHS.
Haart working at her penthouse. The luxury NYC apartment boasts five bedrooms and six and a half bathrooms
Haart, 51, broke away from an ‘ultra-orthodox’ Jewish community in 2013 and made a popular Netflix documentary series about it: My Unorthodox Life, starring her children: son Aron Hendler (bottom left) daughter Miriam (top left), son Shlomo Hendler (bottom right) and eldest daughter Batsheva (top right)
From what Cohen observed, she said, Scaglia acted with impunity, unchallenged by the people with whom he surrounded himself and who were, without exception, on his payroll.
In truth, she said, challenging Scaglia whose behavior she described as, ‘erratic and paranoid’ is no easy prospect.
She admitted: ‘I am a little scared. I’ve seen his face bulge when he yells. I’ve seen the vendetta he has against Julia. Who’s to say what he’s going to do to me?’
But for Cohen the knowledge of what was going on was, she said, too great to bear.
She resigned in November 2022. After that, she said, she took a month to ‘decompress.’
‘But I felt badly. I was taught to tell the truth. I was taught to help people. And I just thought, ”No. This isn’t right.” So, I reached out to Julia.
‘I texted her and said, “Julia, I know this is out of left field and you don’t know me, but I think I can help you.” And I sat there, and I can’t tell you how many times I deleted that text and put it back and deleted it and put it back. But ultimately of course I sent it.’
And in doing so she set in motion the events that culminated in the lawsuit filed by Haart against Scaglia Friday.
When reached for comment Scaglia’s attorney Peter A. Bicks, a partner at Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe said: ‘Ms Haart is using Ms Cohen as a pawn in her efforts to manipulate the public. The claims are false and will be proven so in a court of law as have every other claim Ms Haart has made.’
For her part Cohen admitted: ‘It’s a little nerve-wracking doing this.
‘I’m doing it to tell the truth.’