| NEW YORK
NEW YORK Aug 20 A former merchandising
executive at teen apparel retailer Aeropostale Inc on
Wednesday was sentenced to eight years in prison after being
convicted of defrauding the company and taking more than $25
million in kickbacks from a key vendor.
Christopher Finazzo, a former executive vice president and
chief merchandising officer at Aeropostale, was also ordered by
U.S. District Judge Roslynn Mauskopf in Brooklyn, New York, to
forfeit more than $25 million and pay the company $13.7 million
Following a three-week trial, Finazzo, 57, was found guilty
in April 2013 of 14 counts of mail fraud, wire fraud and
Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch, who announced the
sentencing Wednesday in a statement, said Finazzo "abused his
position of power at Aeropostale and betrayed the trust placed
in him by the company, its investors, and its employees by
lining his own pockets at his employer's expense."
Prosecutors at trial said Finazzo entered into an illegal
deal with Douglas Dey, a movie producer and the owner of South
Bay Apparel Inc, a firm that was once a major clothing supplier
Under the deal, prosecutors said Finazzo from 1996 to 2006
caused the company to buy more than $350 million in T-shirt and
fleece items from South Bay on behalf of Aeropostale in exchange
for about 50 percent of the vendor's profits, prosecutors said.
Prosecutors said the scheme enabled Finazzo to collect more
than $25 million in kickbacks from South Bay. The executive hid
the transactions from Aeropostale and its investors, prosecutors
said, and prevented the retailer from seeking lower prices or
better quality merchandise from another vendor.
Dey, who in 2012 pleaded guilty to conspiring to violate the
Travel Act, acted as an executive producer for several movies
including "Blue Valentine," a 2010 drama starring Michelle
Williams and Ryan Gosling. Dey, 57, was sentenced Aug. 6 to
3-1/2 years in prison.
A lawyer for Finazzo did not respond to a request for
comment. Aeropostale declined comment.
The case is U.S. v. Finazzo et al., U.S. District Court for
the Eastern District of New York, No. 10-457.
(Reporting by Nate Raymond in New York; Editing by Diane Craft)