A former licensing chief of World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. admitted Thursday that he accepted kickbacks in return for steering the licensing rights for several WWE products made by others.
James K. Bell, WWE's former senior vice president of licensing and merchandising, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Bridgeport, Conn., to one federal count of mail fraud.
In announcing the plea, the U.S. attorney's office in Connecticut didn't disclose the licenses or companies involved in Bell's scheme.
But WWE is pursuing a separate civil suit against Bell, Malibu-based toy company Jakks Pacific Inc. and others, alleging they helped Jakks wrongfully secure a video game license from WWE in 1998. Jakks has denied any wrongdoing.
The U.S. attorney's office in Connecticut said that, under a scheme that ran from 1998 to 2000, Bell arranged for an outside WWE licensing agent, SS&Associates Inc., to receive commissions on licensing agreements to which it was not entitled. Bell would then get kickbacks from SS&Associates, owned by licensing agent Stanley Shenker, according to Bell's plea.