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At this point, many people will have forgotten the tale of Garth Drabinsky. As corporate criminals go, the former theater impresario has neither the decadent streak of a Dennis Kozlowski, nor the destructive power of a Bernie Madoff.
But Drabinsky is a cautionary tale for our age. An Ontario court just sentenced him to seven years in jail for accounting fraud at Livent, his former entertainment company. (His business partner is being sent away for six.) The duo was found guilty of manipulating financial statements from 1993 through 1998.
Along with his Canadian entertainment empire, Drabinsky was the force behind such Broadway hits as Kiss of the Spider Woman, Ragtime and Fosse. His fraud was only discovered when Hollywood agent Michael Ovitz led a group that took a stake in Livent.
Drabinsky’s life story reads like a stage-worthy drama in itself. He had a pronounced limp from having contracted polio at the age of three. He introduced the world to the multi-screen movie theater. And when he got into the volatile business of Broadway, he took millions of dollars in losses and recast them as profits to boost the fortunes of his public company.
Under Canadian sentencing guidelines, Drabinsky could be out in little more than a year. But his reputation has been destroyed in a country that once hailed him as a hero.
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