Ex-Tyco CEO loses parole bid in New York

Published April 6, 2012 6:54AM (EDT)

NEW YORK (AP) — Former Tyco CEO L. Dennis Kozlowski on Thursday lost a bid to get out of the prison where he's serving time in one of the corporate world's most notorious fraud cases, with parole officials calling his role in the $100-million-plus scheme a "glaring violation" of shareholders' trust.

"Your discretionary release, at this time, would thus not be compatible with the welfare of society at large, and would tend to deprecate the seriousness of the instant offenses and undermine respect for the law," the state Parole Board wrote in its decision.

Kozlowski is "deeply disappointed," said his lawyer, Alan Lewis.

"Respectfully, he does not agree that his parole would compromise public safety," Lewis said in a statement issued by his office.

The Manhattan district attorney's office opposed parole for Kozlowski but had no further comment Thursday.

The decision leaves Kozlowski, 65, behind bars until at least September 2013, when he can try for parole again.

Kozlowski and former Tyco International Ltd. chief financial officer Mark Swartz were convicted in 2005 of fraud and larceny in a case that came to symbolize corporate greed, at least for its moment.

The two executives were found guilty of helping themselves to heaps of unauthorized pay after a trial laden with details about their lavish spending — including Kozlowski's $6,000 gold-threaded shower curtain, his a $15,000 umbrella stand shaped like a small terrier, and a $2 million birthday party he threw for his wife on the Mediterranean island of Sardinia.

Jurors took a video tour of Kozlowski's $18 million Fifth Avenue apartment, furnished for nearly $20 million, and watched scenes from the birthday bash.

Kozlowski and Swartz were accused of giving themselves as much as $150 million in illegal bonuses and forgiving millions of dollars in loans to themselves, while also manipulating the security-systems company's stock price by lying about the state of its finances. The executives said the payments had, in fact, been authorized.

Both were sentenced to 8 1/3 to 25 years in state prison and ordered to repay the bonuses. Kozlowski also was fined $70 million, and Swartz $35 million.

They maintained the trial was flawed, saying that jurors shouldn't have been allowed to hear testimony from a lawyer hired by Tyco for a 2002 internal investigation. The state's highest court, the Court of Appeals, upheld the conviction, and the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal.

Kozlowski, who is being held at the minimum-security Lincoln Correctional Facility in Harlem, has a clean disciplinary record and has logged "progress and achievement" in prison programs, the Parole Board noted.

But, the decision noted, he is there as the result of a more than $100 million theft from "an international public corporation, in glaring violation of the trust placed in you as CEO by the board of directors and corporate shareholders."

Swartz, 51, is also at Lincoln for now. He's eligible for his first parole board interview in September 2013, according to the state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision.

Kozlowski and Swartz were part of a line of other executives sent off to prison for lengthy stints after white-collar scandals that outraged the public in the early 2000s.

WorldCom Chairman Bernard Ebbers was sentenced to 25 years in prison for the $11 billion accounting fraud that toppled the telecommunications firm. Enron Corp. founder Kenneth Lay was convicted of fraud, conspiracy and lying to banks; he died of heart disease while awaiting sentencing. Former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling also was convicted; he remains in prison awaiting resentencing after an appeals court overturned his 24-year sentence and the U.S. Supreme Court declined to overturn his convictions.

Their cases all preceded the December 2008 arrest of financier Bernard Madoff, now serving a 150-year prison sentence after revealing in December 2008 that he cheated thousands of investors of roughly $20 billion.


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By Salon Staff

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