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Jury Views Big Bash in Italy by Tyco Ex-CEO

The $2-million birthday party for his wife in '01 was captured on video. The company picked up part of the tab.

October 29, 2003|From Bloomberg News

Jurors in the fraud trial of former Tyco International Ltd. Chief Executive L. Dennis Kozlowski got a peek Tuesday at the $2-million birthday bash in Sardinia, Italy, that he threw for his wife, a party for which prosecutors said Tyco paid half the bill.

The video wasn't the director's cut -- Manhattan state Supreme Court Justice Michael Obus ordered some scenes deleted -- including one showing a birthday cake with an exploding bosom.

The edited, 21-minute version of the party video is the centerpiece so far of a prosecution case that depicts Kozlowski as a CEO exploiting a public company for his own benefit. He and the company's former chief financial officer, Mark Swartz, are accused of obtaining $170 million in unauthorized compensation by abusing Tyco loan programs and of gaining $430 million from selling Tyco stock at prices they artificially inflated by misleading investors.

"It's going to be a fun week, sailing on the Endeavour, tennis, golf, eating, drinking," Kozlowski told guests shortly after they arrived in Sardinia on June 11, 2001, to celebrate his wife's 40th birthday. "All the things we are best known for."

Kozlowski is later seen posing June 14, the day of the party, with two women in skimpy, Roman-style dresses, accompanied by shirtless male models in Speedo swimsuits flexing their muscles. His wife, Karen Mayo, later appears with another woman laughing and posing with two men dressed as Roman legionnaires.

As darkness sets in, five women in white dresses are seen dancing at poolside and joined by male dancers. A mist descends on the scene from a fog machine.

Then a group of men dressed as Romans enter, bearing a large cake in the shape of a woman's body, and the guests sing "Happy Birthday."

As he toasted his wife's birthday, Kozlowski told Mayo that "everybody here had you in mind" when the cake was made.

Jurors saw musician Jimmy Buffett, who was paid $250,000 to perform at the party, tell his audience, "Yes, it's me," before launching into Van Morrison's "Brown-Eyed Girl." They also saw Kozlowski and Mayo on the dance floor.

In the courtroom, Kozlowski laughed and smiled as he watched the videotape. Jurors, for the most part, displayed stoic expressions. Kozlowski declined to comment after the screening, other than to say, "Nice party, nice people."

After the videotape, jurors were shown a series of photographs from the weeklong birthday celebration that Mayo sent to guests who attended. The photos showed revelers at a beach barbecue, eating a meal at a restaurant, participating in a hillside scavenger hunt and sailing on Kozlowski's boat, Endeavour.

Kozlowski is pictured in many of the photos with his wife, whom he had married May 5, 2001, in a ceremony on the boat. He announced the nuptials to guests when they arrived in Sardinia.

After Kozlowski made the announcement, a beaming Mayo went up to the stage and told guests: "Call me Mrs. K."

Barbara Jacques, a former Tyco events planner who coordinated the party, testified that the video was shot by a production company hired by Tyco.

Defense lawyers had sought to block the showing of the video. Obus agreed that the jury should see it with some scenes cut.

"Sometimes pictures are worth a thousand words," the judge said.

Jacques testified Monday that after discussing with Kozlowski how the party would be paid for, she was told Tyco and Kozlowski would split the cost. "Tyco would be paying for Tyco employees and Dennis would be paying for friends," she said.

Jacques said Tuesday that nonemployees paid their own travel expenses to Sardinia.

During questioning by Assistant Dist. Atty. Kenneth Chalifoux, Jacques was asked why, when she submitted a check request for the Sardinia party, she described it as a "deposit" for a management meeting.

"I don't think I would put in a check request for 'Karen's birthday bash,' " she said.

Late in the day, defense attorneys agreed to a request by prosecutors for the dismissal of one of the jurors, said Kozlowski lawyer Stephen Kaufman.

The juror's brother is an attorney at a law firm that is home to several of Kozlowski's attorneys.

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