Livent Co-Founder Garth Drabinsky Faces Jail After Losing Appeal Over Michael Ovitz Fraud Conviction
TORONTO -- On Saturday night, Canadian producer Garth Drabinsky was being toasted at the Toronto International Film Festival as he debuted his Christopher Plummer-starrer Barrymore at Bell Lightbox.
On Tuesday morning, Drabinsky was expected to have surrendered himself to prison authorities in Toronto after a three-judge panel at the Court of Appeal of Ontario upheld his 2009 conviction for fleecing former superstar agent Michael Ovitz as part of the 1990s Livent affair.
“When prominent business leaders who are directors and officers of public companies engage in fraudulent activity, the public faith in, and the integrity of, the public marketplace no doubt suffers regardless of the actual financial loss suffered,” the court said when rejecting appeals by Drabinsky and long-time business partner Myron Gottlieb.
“We see no reversible error and would dismiss the conviction appeals,” the court ruling stated.
Drabinsky and Gottlieb, as co-founders of Livent, a live theater producer, were found guilty in 2009 of two counts of fraud over cooking the books at a company they eventually sold to Ovitz in 1998.
“The bright future anticipated when the Ovitz group arrived on the scene never materialized. Unbeknownst to the Ovitz group, the Livent financial statements were fraudulent and did not reflect the true financial state of the company,” the ruling recalled.
Rather than running Livent, Ovitz and his consortium were eventually forced to tip the company into bankruptcy and sell off its assets.
Drabinsky and Gottlieb did win one major victory Tuesday.
The appeals court reduced Drabinsky’s jail time from seven to five years, while Gottlieb’s six year sentence was reduced to four years.