Cuti pleads not guilty to accounting fraud charge
NEW YORK Duane Reade’s former chairman, president and chief executive officer, Anthony Cuti, pleaded not guilty to securities fraud, conspiracy and charges of making false statements to securities regulators, according to published reports.
Cuti’s attorney, Jeffrey Sklaroff, was not immediately available for comment.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Frank Maas in Manhattan federal court released Cuti, who surrendered to authorities on Friday morning, on a $3 million personal recognizance bond, according to reports.
Former chief financial officer, William Tennant, is to be arraigned at a later date.
As previously reported by Drug Store News, Cuti and Tennant were indicted late last week for allegedly falsely inflating the income and reducing the expenses reported by Duane Reade. In addition, Cuti was charged with making false filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, according to the United States Attorney Southern District of New York.
Cuti and Tennant are being charged with one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud, make false statements in annual and quarterly SEC reports, make false statements to auditors, and make false entries in books and records; and one count of securities fraud. The indictment also charges Cuti with three counts of making false filings with the SEC.
The conspiracy count carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or gross loss from the offense.
The securities fraud count and the false SEC filing counts each carry maximum sentences of 20 years in prison and fines of $5 million.
From December 2000 through June 2005, Cuti and Tennant allegedly engaged in a scheme to misrepresent Duane Reade’s financial performance in order to meet its own projections and the expectations of analysts. The scheme, according to officials, involved the reporting of inflated income from fraudulent real estate transactions and the artificial reduction of expenses through fictitious credits from vendors who did work for Duane Reade.
Cuti and Tennant reportedly caused, through this scheme, the Manhattan-based retailer to report income that was inflated in a false and misleading way by about 10 percent to 15 percent between the last quarter of its fiscal year in 2000 and Oak Hill?s acquisition in July 2004.
Cuti and Tennant also reportedly reaped the financial gains of the alleged scheme. From 2000 to 2005, Cuti received more than $50 million in compensation from Duane Reade and Oak Hill, including a payout of more than $25 million in connection with Oak Hill’s acquisition, according to officials.
From June through November 2001, Tennant, after reportedly participating in numerous fraudulent real estate transactions, exercised his options to buy Duane Reade stock and received in excess of $2.8 million in gain, according to officials.
Duane Reade terminated Cuti’s employment in November 2005. Tennant was employed by Duane Reade until December 2001 and then served as a consultant until April 2005.
According to reports, Cuti’s attorney issued a statement that claimed the transactions were disputed and had no effect on stockholders, bondholders, the company or Oak Hill.
Responding to the indictment of the former executives, Duane Reade’s current chairman and chief executive officer John Lederer issued a statement that read, “Duane Reade has cooperated fully with the government agencies in their investigations over the last 16 months and we are pleased to see this issue reach resolution. We are gratified that the government has concluded its investigation with no finding of any wrongdoing by the company or any of its current executives. Most importantly, the actions taken today have no effect upon our current business and our financial condition is unaffected by these actions. Our business continues to perform well and we remain fully focused on elevating Duane Reade to the next level.”
Duane Reade also stated that, as previously disclosed in May 2007, the company’s audit committee, with the assistance of an independent counsel, conducted an investigation into matters related to the charges. As a result of the probe, the company restated its financial results for the impacted historical periods and reported the results of the investigation to the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the SEC.
Shopko donates school supplies to Green Bay area elementary school
GREEN BAY, Wis. An elementary school in Green Bay received a variety of school supplies from a locally headquartered retail chain.
Shopko announced Oct. 2 that it had donated the supplies to Sunrise River Elementary, which serves students in second through fifth grade. The supplies included basic items from the school’s required supply list.
Shopko operates stores throughout the Midwest and West.
ARCA Biopharma makes unprecedented payment to Aeolus following FDA approval of bucindolol
NEW YORK Aeolus Pharmaceuticals announced Friday that it had received a $175,000 milestone payment from ARCA Biopharma following the Food and Drug Administration’s acceptance of an approval application for a cardiovascular drug.
Aeolus said the drug, bucindolol, could be the first genetically targeted cardiovascular therapy. CPEC, a company owned jointly by Aeolus and Indevus Pharmaceuticals, licensed all rights to bucindolol to ARCA.
“ARCA’s success in demonstrating the potential benefits of bucindolol in treating heart failure in patients is encouraging,” Aeolus president and chief executive officer John McManus said in a statement. “We look forward to an expeditious review and hope for a positive outcome.”