updated 9/19/2005 11:59:37 AM ET 2005-09-19T15:59:37

A prosecutor urged a state judge Monday to sentence former Tyco International Ltd. CEO L. Dennis Kozlowski to the maximum 15 to 30 years in prison for stealing hundreds of millions of dollars from the company.

Assistant District Attorney Owen Heimer told state Supreme Court Justice Michael Obus that Kozlowski, who was to be sentenced later Monday, “should not be shown any leniency.”

“He stole. He committed fraud. He committed perjury,” Heimer said.

Kozlowski’s lawyer, Stephen E. Kaufman, read from letters written on his client’s behalf and said, “He’s a good man. He’s a decent person and his reputation has been tarnished but his life should not be destroyed.”

Heimer said Kozlowski had once urged the maximum sentence for an employee who stole one half of 1 percent of what Kozlowski stole.

The prosecutor was especially critical of Kozlowski’s spending habits.

“He engaged in a shocking spree of self-indulgence,” he said, recounting tens of millions in company money spent on a Manhattan apartment, jewelry, artwork and a lavish birthday party for his wife.

Kozlowski’s sentencing was to be followed by that of former Tyco finance chief Mark Swartz.

The case exposed the executives’ extravagant lifestyle after they pilfered some $600 million from the company including a $2 million toga birthday party for Kozlowski’s wife on a Mediterranean island and an $18 million Manhattan apartment with a $6,000 shower curtain.

Kozlowski, 58, and Swartz, 44, were convicted in June, after a four-month trial, on 22 counts of grand larceny, falsifying business records, securities fraud and conspiracy. In their first trial, a mistrial was declared after a juror said she received threats following reports that she made an “OK” signal to the defense team.

Prison sentences would mean Kozlowski and Swartz are joining a line of other executives incarcerated in a wave of white-collar scandals that shook corporate America and outraged the public after thousands of people lost their jobs and pension nest-eggs.

WorldCom Chairman Bernard Ebbers was sentenced to 25 years in prison for the $11 billion accounting fraud that toppled the telecommunications company that emerged from bankrutpcy as MCI Inc. Adelphia Communications Corp. founder John Rigas was sentenced to 15 years in prison for his role in the looting and fraud at that cable TV company. His son and former finance chief, Timothy Rigas, got 20 years.

Enron Corp. founder Kenneth Lay, former CEO Jeffrey Skilling and former top Enron accountant Richard Causey are expected to go to trial in January.

Thomas Curran, a former New York City prosecutor who is now a defense lawyer, argued that the scandals were not the same.

“Tyco is not Enron. Tyco is a real company with a real business plan that still employs thousands of people. ... There are no retirees eating cat food because of Dennis Kozlowski.”

Kozlowski and Swartz were accused of giving themselves more than $150 million in illegal bonuses and forgiving loans to themselves, besides manipulating the company’s stock price.

The jury deliberated 11 days before returning 22 guilty verdicts out of 23 counts for each defendant. Each was acquitted of a count of falsifying records about company loans for homes in Boca Raton, Fla.

Kozlowski, employed by Tyco from 1975 until 2002, and Swartz, who joined Tyco in 1991 and left in 2002, testified that they never stole anything from Tyco or received anything from the company to which they were not entitled.

Tyco, which has about 250,000 employees and $40 billion in annual revenue, makes electronics and medical supplies and owns the ADT home security business. Nominally based in Bermuda, its operations headquarters are in West Windsor, N.J.

© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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