Two top Tyco International executives accused of looting $600 million of company money to finance lavish lifestyles go on trial today for a second time. The executives' first trial...
NEW YORK — Two top Tyco International executives accused of looting $600 million of company money to finance lavish lifestyles go on trial today for a second time.
The executives’ first trial, which lasted six months, was aborted last year because of a menacing letter and telephone call to a juror. Prosecutors plan to present a leaner, shorter case this time around.
In the retrial, prosecutors are expected to focus less on items such as former Tyco CEO L. Dennis Kozlowski’s $6,000 gold-threaded shower curtain, and more on how he and co-defendant Mark Swartz allegedly looted the company.
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The defendants each face up to 30 years in prison if convicted of the most serious charges.
In the first trial, prosecutors gave jurors a videotaped look at the $2 million birthday party Kozlowski, Tyco’s former chairman and chief executive officer, threw for his wife on a Mediterranean island, and a video tour through his $18 million Fifth Avenue apartment.
Jurors were told Kozlowski spent $11 million of Tyco’s money to furnish the apartment. The furnishings included a $2,900 set of hangers, a $4,995 custom-made blue-and-gold bedskirt, and a $2,665 blue velvet pillow.
And those were the little things.
The jurors also saw a Persian rug, 20 feet by 16 feet, that cost $191,250, a walnut clock that set Tyco back $113,750, and a pair of French antique stools, bought for $125,000.
The prosecutors’ videotapes, which included scenes shot aboard Kozlowski’s yacht, “Endeavour,” sometimes made the proceedings seem more like an episode of “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” than a larceny trial.
Prosecutors said at the time that the extravagances demonstrated the defendants’ greed and showed where some of the money they allegedly stole ended up.
While prosecutors have refused to say how they might pare the evidence at the retrial, which they expect to last about four months, legal experts say they should avoid paying too much attention to the defendants’ spending.
John Coffee, a Columbia University Law School professor who specializes in white-collar crime, said after the first trial that prosecutors “could maybe put their case on an extreme diet and ‘Keep it simple, stupid.’ ”
Kozlowski, 58, and Swartz, 44, the company’s former finance chief, are charged with grand larceny, falsifying business records, conspiracy and business-law violations. Prosecutors said the defendants stole $170 million by hiding unauthorized bonuses and secretly forgiving loans to themselves, and pocketed $430 million by pumping up Tyco stock by lying about the state of the company’s finances.
Defense lawyers said Kozlowski and Swartz earned every penny they got from Tyco.
In an interview with The New York Times published Sunday, Kozlowski said he earned “enormous sums” of money because “I worked my butt off and it was all based on my performance in Tyco’s long-established pay-for-performance culture.”
He also said the $6,000 shower curtain, purchased by his decorator, was not his idea.
Tyco, which has about 270,000 employees and $36 billion in annual revenue, makes a wide range of products including electronics, medical supplies and security devices.