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Ex-CEO of jeweler Friedman's indicted in fraud case

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A former chief executive of jewelry retailer Friedman’s Inc. was indicted on conspiracy and other charges related to an alleged accounting fraud at the company, U.S. prosecutors said on Friday.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Brooklyn said that Bradley Stinn, who resigned in December 2003 following a government probe into the company’s finances, is accused of falsifying the company’s accounting records to conceal financial problems from investors.

Friedman’s announced in November 2003 that its financial statements for fiscal years 2000-2002 and much of fiscal 2003 would be restated.

Between November 2003 and May 2004, prosecutors said, Friedman’s stock price lost more than half of its value. The New York Stock Exchange halted trading in the stock in May 2004, when shares were trading at $4.97 apiece. The company, which no longer is publicly traded, subsequently reorganized after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

The government probe previously resulted in the guilty pleas of the company’s former chief financial officer and controller, prosecutors said.

Stinn is expected to be arraigned later on Friday, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

Stinn’s lawyer could not immediately be reached for comment.

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