Fallen Broadway Impressario Garth Drabinsky Granted Day Parole
The Livent co-founder was convicted in 2009 on two counts of fraud for fleecing Los Angeles superagent Michael Ovitz after he acquired the Canadian-based live theater producer.
TORONTO - Disgraced Broadway impressario Garth Drabinsky on Wednesday reportedly begged for his freedom, and received day parole from an Ontario prison.
“Thank you from the bottom of my heart," a sobbing Drabinsky told a parole hearing 14 years after Livent Inc., the live theater producer he co-founded and which was then owned by Los Angeles superagent Michael Ovitz, imploded owing to widespread financial irregularities.
Drabinsky didn’t take direct personal responsibility for his role in the fleecing of Ovitz as part of the 1990s Livent affair, for which he was convicted on two counts of fraud.
But Drabinsky did concede he likely drove his accountants to cook the books by sheer force of will.
"I never directed anyone to cross over the line knowingly. I obviously did do that by the dynamic of my character -- the force of my character coupled with my role in the organization,” he told the parole hearing.
“I drove people tremendously hard in the company. I drove them to succeed through my flawed ambition and creative hunger, which was not grounded in greed. I pushed the envelope too far,” he added.
Drabinsky and long-time business partner Myron Gottlieb were found guilty in 2009 of fraud at Livent, which was sold to Ovitz in 1998.
Rather than run Livent after the acquisition, Ovitz and his consortium were forced to tip the company into bankruptcy and sell off its assets after uncovering massive fraud in the company books.
Drabinsky on Wednesday also detailed the horrors of prison life, and its impact on his young family.
"Every time the lead door slammed shut and reverberated I was overwhelmed,” he said of his first month in the maximum security Millhaven prison.
The fallen media mogul reportedly broke down when he said the Canadian government was considering revoking his Order of Canada honor, which he received in 1995.
The fraud that Drabinsky and Gottlieb orchestrated at Livent, not least by pumping the company’s asset value and share price between 1993 and 1998, is estimated to have cost investors around $500 million.