Garth Drabinsky and Myron Gottlieb, the deposed founders of Livent who have been charged with 16 felony counts each by the U.S. Attorney's office, will not surrender to American authorities. Instead, the embattled executives have opted to dig in their heels in Toronto, resisting what they feel will be an unfair trial.
As a result, U.S. Attorney Mary Ho White announced on Jan. 28 that she would seek extradition of the two executives. Additionally, an arrest warrent was issued, though it is only binding within the United States.
"Mr. Drabinsky has suffered a great deal by the charges levelled against him," said Drabinsky lawyer Harvey Pitt, "charges brough after a very quick and rushed investigation by the U.S. Attorney's Office in New York."
Drabinsky's chief counsel Edward Greenspan asserted that the matter was strictly a Canadian matter and that his client "will vigorously oppose any extradition request by the U.S." Gottlieb has also refused to comply.
"They are stalling the inevitable," Alan Young, a Toronto-based criminal lawyer and professor of law, told the National Post. "For the most part, fighting extradition to the U.S. on conspiracy to defraud is a losing proposition." Drabinsky and Gottlieb were supposed to appear in New York federal court today. Lawyers for the two men have been meeting with U.S. officials in attempt to hammer out a bail package which would allow Drabinsky and Gottlieb to be arraigned in the U.S., plead not guilty, but not be restricted in their comings and goings. Apparently, such an agreement has not been reached.
The U.S. Attorney's office had hoped for voluntary surrender and will very likely now call for an international arrest warrant and file extradition papers for the ousted Livent chiefs. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police are conducting their own investigation of Drabinsky and Gottlieb.
Each felony count facing the execs could bring five to ten years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.
Paul Guerlock, an attorney working on the SEC's civil case, said the Livent executives have 30 days to reply to separate civil charges brought by the Security Exchange Commission.
Two other former Livent executives, Gordon Eckstein and Maria Messina, have already pleaded guilty to one count of criminal action. No date for sentencing has been set, said Hadad.
When the U.S. Attorney's Office and the SEC announced their cases on Jan. 13, they painted Drabinsky and Gottlieb as "the architects of an accounting fraud designed to inflate earnings, revenues and assets reported by the company" during the period covering 1990-98 -- roughly the entirety of the Canadian theatrical producing company's existence. Seven other top Livent executives were also indicted.
-- By Robert Simonson