Leo Dennis Kozlowski (born November 16, 1946) is a former CEO of Tyco International, convicted in 2005 of crimes related to his receipt of $81 million in unauthorized bonuses, the purchase of art for $14.725 million and the payment by Tyco of a $20 million investment banking fee to Frank Walsh, a former Tyco director. He served more than six years at the Mid-State Correctional Facility in Marcy, New York before being transferred to the Lincoln Correctional Facility in New York City, from which he was granted conditional release on January 17, 2014.
Kozlowski was born in Newark, New Jersey. His mother, Agnes (née Kozell), worked for the Newark Police Department and as a school crossing guard, and his father, Leo Kelly Kozlowski, worked for the Public Service Transport. His parents were second-generation Polish-Americans. Kozlowski attended Seton Hall University, a Catholic university.
Kozlowski joined Tyco in 1975, becoming CEO in 1992. With Kozlowski at the helm, Tyco massively expanded during the late 1990s. The company consistently beat Wall Street's expectations and through a series of strategic mergers and acquisitions, ushered in a new era of mega-conglomerates. Kozlowski left Tyco in 2002, amid a controversy in regard to his compensation package.
Scandal, trial, and conviction
Kozlowski has been tried twice. The first attempt was a ruled mistrial when one of the jurors was threatened by the public after being reported to have made an OK sign towards Kozlowski's lawyers. Kozlowski testified on his own behalf during the second trial, stating that his pay package was "confusing" and "almost embarrassingly big," but that he never committed a crime as the company's top executive.
Along with former Tyco chief financial officer Mark Swartz, Kozlowski was convicted on June 17, 2005 of crimes related to his receipt of $81 million in purportedly unauthorized bonuses, the purchase of art for $14.725 million and the payment by Tyco of a $20 million investment banking fee to Frank Walsh, a former Tyco director. On September 19, 2005 he was sentenced by Judge Michael Obus of the Manhattan Supreme Court to serve from eight years and four months to twenty-five years in prison for his role in the scandal. In addition, Kozlowski and Swartz were ordered to pay a total of $134 million in restitution. Koslowski was further fined $70 million, while Swartz was fined $35 million. Both were convicted on 22 counts of grand larceny, falsifying business records, securities fraud and conspiracy.
His aggregate minimum sentence was set at 8 years and 4 months, and his aggregate maximum sentence was 25 years; his conditional release date was set for May 17, 2022, and his maximum expiration date was September 17, 2030. In April 2012, Kozlowski was denied parole. His next parole eligibility date, and his parole hearing merit release appearance, were then set for January 17, 2014. On January 17, 2014 he was granted conditional release from the Lincoln Correctional Facility in New York City.
Commenting on his trial
Kozlowski, commenting on his trial in a March 2007 interview with the CBS television newsmagazine 60 Minutes, told Morley Safer, "I was a guy sitting in a courtroom making $100 million a year [a]nd I think a juror sitting there just would have to say, 'All that money? He must have done something wrong.' I think it's as simple as that."
Kozlowski, asserted his innocence by stating, "I am absolutely not guilty of the charges. There was no criminal intent here. Nothing was hidden. There were no shredded documents. All the information the prosecutors got was directly off the books and records of the company."
It's fair to say that Kozlowski and Swartz abused many corporate prerogatives and that they invented new ones just so they could abuse them. They acted like pigs, as a lot of CEOs act like pigs. Still, the larceny charges at the heart of the case did not depend on whether the defendants took the money—they did—but whether they were authorized to take it. Questions of authority are, by nature, legal questions, not questions for jurors. Much has been made of how the second Tyco trial was less of a circus than the first one. That's true, but only by comparison.
On November 15, 2007, the appellate division of the New York State Supreme Court denied Kozlowski's appeal in a unanimous decision.
Kozlowski became notorious for his extravagant lifestyle, supported by the booming stock market of the late 1990s and early 2000s; allegedly, he had Tyco pay for his $30 million New York City apartment which included $6,000 shower curtains and $15,000 "dog umbrella stands".
According to Forbes, Kozlowski also purchased several acres in the private gated community, "The Sanctuary", in Boca Raton, Florida, while he was CEO at Tyco International. He also purchased a multimillion-dollar oceanfront estate on the island of Nantucket.
Tyco paid $1 million (half of the $2 million bill) for the 40th birthday party of Kozlowski's second wife, Karen Mayo Kozlowski. The extravagant party, held on the Italian island of Sardinia, featured an ice sculpture of Michelangelo's David urinating Stolichnaya vodka and a private concert by Jimmy Buffett. In a camcorder video, Dennis Kozlowski states that this party will bring out a Tyco core competency – the ability to party hard. Subsequently, this shareholder meeting/birthday party became known as the Tyco Roman Orgy.
On July 31, 2006, Karen Kozlowski filed for divorce in Palm Beach County, Florida. No specific reasons were cited, but the motion asks the court to equitably distribute the couple's assets and liabilities and asks that gifts Karen received be declared marital property. She also seeks a lien on the couple's Boca Raton mansion. Finally, the motion requested alimony.
Kozlowski is a graduate of Seton Hall University, served as Head of the Board at Berwick Academy in South Berwick, ME for many years, and served on the Middlebury College Board of Trustees in the 1990s.
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