Iconix founder convicted of securities fraud at retrial

The witness stand (rear L) and the judge's chair (rear C), face towards the defense table (L) and prosecution table (R), in Part 31, Room 1333 of the New York State Supreme Court, Criminal Term at 100 Centre Street, in New York, February 3, 2012. REUTERS/Chip East (UNITED STATES - Tags: CRIME LAW)
  • Ex-CEO found guilty of inflating brand company's revenue
  • Jury at first trial deadlocked after partial acquittal

(Reuters) - A Manhattan jury found Iconix Brand Group Inc founder Neil Cole guilty of securities fraud on Monday, a little more than a year after another jury deadlocked at his first trial.

Prosecutors said Cole, 65, inflated the apparel licensing company's revenue in 2013 and 2014 using joint venture agreements with Hong Kong-based global supply chain company Li & Fung Ltd.

Cole, Iconix's former chief executive, was also convicted of making false filings with the SEC and improperly influencing audits, according to a statement by U.S. Attorney Damian Williams.

Last year, another jury had deadlocked on those charges after acquitting Cole on two counts of conspiracy.

"Wall Street should know that we will not be deterred from seeking justice in tough cases," Williams said.

Cole's attorneys, David Markus and Sean Hecker, said in a statement that while they were disappointed with the verdict, "there are significant issues" to be reviewed on appeal.

U.S. District Judge Edgardo Ramos denied Cole's request to dismiss an alternate juror during the trial. The reasons for the request were not disclosed in court papers.

Cole was charged in December 2019 with inflating the joint venture deals and agreeing to later reimburse the partner company through sham consulting or marketing fees.

Iconix paid $5.5 million in 2019 to settle with the SEC over alleged accounting violations, which the company neither admitted nor denied.

Lancer Capital took Iconix private last year.

The case is United States v. Cole, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, No. 19-cr-00869

For Cole: Sean Hecker and Jenna Dabbs of Kaplan Hecker & Fink; and David Oscar Markus and A. Margot Moss of Markus/Moss

For the government: Jared Lenow, Justin Rodriguez and Andrew Thomas of the Department of Justice

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Jody Godoy reports on banking and securities law. Reach her at jody.godoy@thomsonreuters.com