Indictments and guilty pleas

By John Pallatto  |  Posted 2004-09-23 Print this article Print

A 10-count indictment unsealed this week charges Kumar and Stephen Richards, CAs former head of worldwide sales, with securities fraud conspiracy, obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice. Richards was charged with one count of perjury, and Kumar was charged with one count of making false statements to law enforcement officers.

Stephen Woghin, CAs former general counsel, pleaded guilty Wednesday to securities fraud conspiracy and obstruction of justice. Woghin faces a maximum sentence of 25 years on all the charges he pleaded to. Kumar and Richards face maximum terms of up to 100 years if they are convicted on all counts.

Click here to read why Computer Associates customers are worried that Kumars resignation will send the companys product strategy off track.

None of these people will receive anywhere near the maximum terms. Doubtless Woghin negotiated some kind of plea bargain in return for his cooperation and testimony in the cases against Kumar and Richards.

Three other former CA executives have also pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing. Ira Zar, former CA chief financial officer, pleaded guilty pleaded to securities fraud and conspiracy to commit securities fraud and obstruct justice.

David Kaplan, former senior vice president of finance, and David Rivard, former vice president of finance, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit securities fraud and obstruct justice. Kaplan and Rivard face maximum sentences of 10 years in prison. Zar faces up to 20 years in prison.

CA itself had to sign a "deferred prosecution agreement" in which it agreed to a sweeping list of measures to correct previous misconduct and to fully cooperate with the government in the continuing investigation and prosecution of former company executives.

Under this agreement the government has filed charges of securities fraud and obstruction of justice. But the government has agreed not to prosecute the charges as long as the company fulfills all the requirements of the agreement.

Click here to read John Pallattos commentary on why Kumar paid a stiff price for CA dismal accounting integrity.

This includes assisting the government in forcing former executives to disgorge the proceeds of stock options or bonuses they received as a result of fraudulent accounting practices.

The company also had to agree not to assert attorney-client privilege for any records or testimony relating to the investigation. And the company agreed to give government investigators virtually carte blanche access to all company documents and records the government might request.

Its clear that CA avoided active prosecution by fully admitting its responsibility and culpability in the accounting misconduct. It was wise for the company not to compound so many criminal acts by trying to stonewall the government investigation, as many other companies have done before when faced with similar inquiries.

But there are still many unanswered questions. One of the key questions is whether former CA Chairman Charles Wang, retired for several years now, knew about and was ultimately responsible for the chronic and pervasive accounting fraud. Did it all happen under Kumars watch? Or were both men part of an entrenched culture of deception that had continued unchecked for many previous years?

It should not be surprising if the government has at least a few more indictments to unseal in the coming months.

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John Pallatto John Pallatto is's Managing Editor News/West Coast. He directs eWEEK's news coverage in Silicon Valley and throughout the West Coast region. He has more than 35 years of experience as a professional journalist, which began as a report with the Hartford Courant daily newspaper in Connecticut. He was also a member of the founding staff of PC Week in March 1984. Pallatto was PC Week's West Coast bureau chief, a senior editor at Ziff Davis' Internet Computing magazine and the West Coast bureau chief at Internet World magazine.

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