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Jury poised to decide fate of ex-Tyco executives

A New York jury is poised to decide the fate of Tyco International Inc.’s two former top executives after prosecutors wrapped up closing arguments Wednesday in the nearly six-month-long corruption trial.
/ Source: Reuters

A New York jury is poised to decide the fate of Tyco International Inc.’s two former top executives after prosecutors wrapped up closing arguments Wednesday in the nearly six-month-long corruption trial.

Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Marc Scholl used the final day of arguments to walk jurors step by step through months of testimony and evidence against Dennis Kozlowski and Mark Swartz, the former chairman and chief financial officer, respectively, of conglomerate Tyco.

In his thorough but tedious closing argument — some jurors dozed and most quit taking notes after the first several hours — the prosecutor quoted countless damaging excerpts from testimony given by former employees and directors during the trial.

Scholl, his voice contending with the noise of nearby car alarms, sirens and horns, at one point called arguments by the defense “nonsense.”

“These are excuses that would be laughable if they were heard anywhere else,” he told a jury that has been witness to one of the biggest corporate corruption cases in U.S. history.

Kozlowski and Swartz are accused of securities fraud, conspiracy, grand larceny and falsifying documents. They went on trial in September in a case that pitted them against former Tyco directors who made them among the best-paid executives in the United States.

Several directors testified they never approved tens of millions of dollars in bonuses and forgiven loans for Kozlowski and Swartz, who are accused of stealing $170 million and obtaining another $430 million through illicit stock sales.

While the first day of closing arguments by the prosecution centered on rhetoric and drama, the second day took jurors through the 32 criminal counts faced by the two former executives.

Scholl used a large screen directly across from the jury box to flash selections of testimony from some of the most damaging witnesses in the case, including a former company events coordinator, a former director and Swartz himself.

“Mark Swartz sure made it sound good on the stand,” he said. “And now you know how he was able to deceive others.”

Kozlowski never took the stand in his own defense. But Swartz, the only defense witness, issued strong denials to the prosecution’s claims during several days of testimony.

With closing arguments complete, jurors are due Wednesday to receive instructions on the law from the judge presiding over the case and then will be ordered to begin deliberations.

Both Kozlowski and Swartz face up to 25 years in state prison if convicted on all counts.