Dennis Kozlowski and Mark Swartz, former top executives at Tyco International Ltd. who were convicted in June 2005 of stealing more than $150 million from the company, asked a state court to reverse their convictions.
In documents filed with the appellate division of the Supreme Court of the State of New York, lawyers for Kozlowski argued that Tyco's pay-for-performance pay system entitled Kozlowski to extraordinary compensation, and the board gave the former Chief Executive broad authority to spend Tyco money.
If failing to adhere meticulously to all of the niceties of corporate governance were a crime, Dennis Kozlowski might have been guilty, but so, no doubt, would be hundreds of other corporate executives, the appeal said.
Lawyers for Swartz raised questions about whether there was enough evidence presented to support charges that their client stole money from Tyco in the form of bonuses that had not been authorized by its board of directors.
If the higher court decides not to reverse, Swartz' lawyer asked that it reconsider Swartz' sentence, writing in a 126-page brief that it substantially exceeds those typically imposed for first-degree grand larceny for a defendant with no criminal record.
In September 2005, each man was sentenced to 8-1/3 to 25 years in prison. They will be able to apply for parole to avoid serving the full 25 years.
Kozlowski, 59, and Chief Financial Officer Swartz, 46, were each found guilty of 22 counts of grand larceny, conspiracy, fraud and falsifying business records.
At the time, Kozlowski and Swartz vowed to appeal the verdicts.
A New York judge also ordered the pair to pay restitution to the company of around $134 million combined. Kozlowski was also fined $70 million and Swartz $35 million by the state.
During their trial, prosecutors said Kozlowski and Swartz stole millions of dollars from Tyco and used the money to buy pricey artwork and throw lavish parties.
Kozlowski also furnished a Manhattan apartment with decor that included a $6,000 shower curtain and a $15,000 umbrella stand.
At the time of their sentencing, legal experts said the men could have faced even stiffer sentences if they had been prosecuted in federal court, as in the cases of former WorldCom CEO Bernard Ebbers and Adelphia Communications Corp. founder John Rigas.
In July 2005, a Manhattan federal judge sentenced Ebbers to 25 years in prison. Rigas, who is 80 and in poor health, was sentenced in June to 15 years in prison, also in Manhattan federal court.
Ebbers began serving his sentence in a medium-security prison in Mississippi on September 26.