Cue the madness—Drabinsky and Gottlieb are now on trial

Cue the madness—Drabinsky and Gottlieb are now on trial

After a mere decade of delays and distractions, former theatre impresario and alleged fraudster Garth Drabinsky will finally see the inside of a Canadian courtroom. He and his Livent Inc. partner Myron Gottlieb are facing criminal charges before Ontario Superior Court Judge Mary Lou Benotto—she of the tainted blood trial. Reporting on CBC Radio this morning, Mike Hornbrook pointed out that it’s considered “Canada’s largest ever prosecution of corporate fraud”—a good thing, too, considering the Americans were ready to prosecute these two as long ago as 1999. Unlike their former board member Conrad Black, Gottlieb and Drabinsky had the good sense to hole up in Canada and wait for the RCMP to conduct its investigation (an indictment took three years). As for the subsequent delay in the case coming to trial, Drabinsky can thank (in part) a certain aforementioned peer of the realm: the Crown was only too happy to accommodate Eddie Greenspan’s crowded calendar as he flew about the continent defending Black.

Incredibly, one of the principals in the trial—Livent COO Robert Topol, who is expected to be a key witness for the defence—got a walk on related charges based on the unreasonable delays in bringing the case to trial. On the other side of the ledger, former Livent VP finance Gordon Eckstein, who cut deals on both sides of the 49th parallel, will play Radler to Drabinsky’s Black. The trial is scheduled to run up to six months, longer than many of Drabinsky’s less boffo productions.

Oddly, Drabinsky is still listed as a judge and executive producer on the coming season of Triple Sensation, CBC TV’s answer to (read: rip-off of) Canadian Idol. And for fans of rich irony, might I suggest the following from a CBC story published on the Web in November 2000:

Newspaper mogul Conrad Black is helping bankroll Garth Drabinsky’s criminal defence fund.

Drabinsky, the deposed head of troubled theatre producer Livent, has been charged in the United States with defrauding the company.

He’s also facing a massive civil suit filed by Livent management.

Black says he believes Drabinsky did not commit a crime and should not face a potential jail term.

Drabinsky denies any wrongdoing and is countersuing Livent.

Black declines to reveal how much he’s giving the Drabinsky defence fund, beyond saying that it’s not a large amount.

Fraud trial set to begin for Drabinsky, Gottlieb [CBC]
• Benotto has worked with Greenspans before [National Post]
Trial set to begin for Livent co-founders [Globe and Mail]
• Livent saga finally goes to trial [Financial Post]
• Timeline: Livent, from Broadway to courthouse [National Post]
• How Canada’s dawdling cost U.S. an opportunity to deter crime [Financial Post]
Curtain rises on Drabinsky trial [Toronto Star]
• The Final Act? [Financial Post]
Livent trial: Curtain raiser [Canadian Business]