Livent duo in court for sentencing

Prosecutors want theater producers in jail for 10 years

TORONTO -- Prosecutors on Monday called for convicted Broadway impresarios Garth Drabinsky and Myron Gottlieb to spend eight to 10 years in jail for cooking the books at former live theater producer Livent Inc.

The request came as the sentencing hearing for Drabinsky and Gottlieb got under way in a Toronto courtroom.

The duo, whose Broadway productions included "Showboat" and "Kiss of the Spider Woman," were found guilty in March on three counts of fraud and forgery that stemmed from their running of publicly listed Livent from 1993-98.

Crown Attorney Alex Hrybinsky told Ontario Superior Court Justice Mary Lou Benotto that neither man had shown remorse over his criminal charges and convictions and had committed "enormous fraud" over a long period of time.

Drabinsky and Gottlieb were found guilty of sham invoicing; reducing expenses by shifting costs from one financial quarter to another or from one losing theatrical production to a future show; and inflating ticket sales for theatrical runs.

In 1998, Drabinsky and Gottlieb sold a controlling stake in Livent to former agent Michael Ovitz; their accounting irregularities came to light soon afterward. Livent was eventually forced to sell off its assets after it filed for bankruptcy.

The two Canadian businessmen face a maximum 10 years in jail for their fraud convictions and 14 years for their forgery convictions. The sentencing hearing was expected to conclude today, with Benotto setting a sentence later this summer.
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