Justice is served
In an era when Americans have rightly questioned whether justice can always be found inside our courtrooms, the sentencing given to Tyco felons Dennis Kozlowski and Mark Swartz are a breath of fresh air. It took some time and money to effectively prosecute Kozlowski, the former CEO of Tyco, and his henchman Swartz, the former CFO. But after two trials - the first ended in a mistrial - those refreshing verdicts were delivered, first by the jury and then by Judge Michael Obus. They were found guilty of audacious thievery - thievery in broad daylight - of some $600 million from Tyco’s unsuspecting shareholders. For their crimes, they were given sentences of up to 25 years. The best part is that the sentences won’t be served in a federal minimum security prison, which is where similar high-profile corporate thieves spend their time behind bars. Kozlowski and Swartz will be in a New York state prison - there’s speculation it may be the infamous Attica - where they will spend each day serving as a living symbol to other potential corporate thieves. Despite the spin of their lawyers, theirs was not a victimless crime. Thousands of shareholders were preyed upon by Kozlowski and Swartz, who viewed Tyco’s coffers as their personal piggy banks. (The inclination, by the way, of some people to express sympathy about the place where the pair will be doing their time is insulting and elitist, considering that there are plenty of people in similar prisons who stole far, far, far less money and victimized far, far, far fewer people.) It seems like so many years ago when Tyco International was one of the prides of New Hampshire, a Fortune 500 company employing hundreds of people in the state and choosing to locate its U.S. headquarters within our borders. The company, by all accounts, was a good corporate citizen - notwithstanding its continuing refusal to locate its legal corporate headquarters in the United States to avoid paying its fair share of federal taxes. Under the leadership of Kozlowski in particular, the company befriended numerous schools, nonprofits and charitable organizations with what all of us thought was unselfish personal and corporate largess. Today, Tyco’s New Hampshire presence is barely noticeable - it long ago moved its U.S. headquarters to New Jersey. But let’s hope we don’t quickly forget the painful and sobering lesson the Tyco scandal has been.