Finazzo never took the stand, which is his right. He is presumed innocent of all charges, and it was up to U.S. government prosecutors to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
The maximum term of imprisonment for each count of mail and wire fraud is 20 years, and five years for the conspiracy charge. U.S. District Court Judge Roslynn R. Mauskopf will determine what the penalties will be. Finazzo’s forfeiture trial starts on Monday and is expected to last a week. The government is seeking more than $21 million, two investment accounts and four pieces of property from Finazzo. Bail was continued.
Mauskopf gave her final instructions Thursday morning before sending the case to the 12-member jury panel to begin deliberations shortly before noon. Word filtered through the courthouse shortly after 4 p.m. that a verdict had already been reached on each count of the indictment.
U.S. Attorney Loretta E. Lynch said, “We have all heard the saying, ‘Money does not buy happiness,’ and today’s verdict is case in point for that maxim. Christopher Finazzo had a great job that paid him millions of dollars, but this honest living was apparently not enough to satisfy his greed. As the evidence at trial showed, he schemed to steal from Aéropostale and to receive more than $25 million in illegal kickbacks from a supplier.”
She also said, as the Finazzo verdict shows, “We will vigorously pursue corporate fraudsters who double deal to enrich themselves and bring them to justice.”
The three-week criminal trial began April 8. Prosecutors took two weeks to present their case, which included cross-examination of their witnesses by defense counsel. The defense needed just a day-and-a half to present its case.
The key components in the government’s case are that Finazzo deprived the retailer of money that could have gone elsewhere and that he interfered with Aéropostale’s ability to decide how to control their own assets, such as whether to place orders with South Bay or somewhere else.
Edward Slezak, the general counsel of Aéropostale Inc., was in court Wednesday morning, and lawyers almost fought over his right to attend closing arguments. He is the only member of the executive team who was also present at the exit interview in which Finazzo was fired. That interview was taped. The recording, which included Finazzo’s statements, was played for jurors. Both Julian Geiger, chief executive officer at the time, and Michael Cunningham, chief financial officer and president, have since retired from the teen retailer. Like Geiger and Cunningham, Slezak also was a government witness in the case. Lawyers for Finazzo objected to his presence, even though both sides had already rested. Before government prosecutors could state why he should be able to stay in the courtroom, Slezak made the decision easy, stating, “I’ll leave. I don’t want to be the subject of this.”
Finazzo and his friend and now coconspirator, Douglas Dey, were both indicted in June 2010. Dey owned South Bay, and 50 percent of the profits South Bay received from orders from Aéropostale were split between Dey and a company called C & D Retail Consultants Inc., a firm Finazzo set up. According to the government, the retailer paid more than $350 million for orders with South Bay, while Finazzo received $25 million for his share of the profits.
Dey in September pled guilty to a conspiracy charge, which carries a penalty of five years imprisonment and the forfeiture of $7.5 million. He too awaits sentencing.
@zacposen's go-to holiday gift? Cookies! "I'll usually bake cookies and send them as a gift," said the designer, who recently released his cookbook "Cooking With Zac: Recipes from Rustic to Refined." Get the recipe for his Brown Butter-Chocolate Chip Cookies via link in bio 🍪🍪🍪 #wwdeye #cookingwithzac
For @monsemaison’s pre-fall 2018 collection, Fernando Garcia and Laura Kim honed in on the brand’s many signatures — men’s wear, which was tweaked and feminized through deconstruction, proportion play and lots of bare shoulders. See the rest of the photos on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: George Chinese)
On Friday night, @yohjiyamamotoofficial received the Design for Asia Lifetime Achievement Award in Hong Kong. The 75-year-old designer has been celebrated for many years and is best known for his dark and avant-garde tailoring. “In my long career, in design, architecture, [I’ve been to] so many parties, this is the very first time that I have such a warm feeling, I really appreciate this,” Yamamoto said. #wwdfashion (📷: @dominiquemaitre)
Discovery is collaborating with British pop artist @philipcolbert on a new line of clothing and accessories called Discovery Shark. The collection, which will launch next summer for Shark Week’s 30th anniversary, features a whimsical line of women’s and men’s bomber jackets, sweatshirts, bags and more. #wwdfashion
“I’m always a big champion of a female rapper, and I’m glad to see a new voice that feels unique and authentic that’s coming up, and I think we’re going to see more great things from her,” said @itsjeremyscott about @iamcardib, who performed at @moschino’s Art Basel Miami Beach party last night. #wwdeye (📷: @lexieblacklock)
@janellemonae’s “What’s Your Frequency?” room in @refinery29's #29Rooms made its debut this week at the opening of the Los Angeles art exhibit. “It’s about the ongoing conversation around mass surveillance, the weaponization of technology and cultural uniformity. My space was created so that we can come together and talk about the complexities of our humanity,” said Monáe. #wwdeye (📷: @bucknerphoto)
@pantone announced their Color of the Year 2018: Ultra Violet. Nearly 20 months after the musician Prince’s death, fashion is having a purple moment. Varying shades of purple appeared on spring or fall runways, from @christopherkane to @calvinklein. @gucci’s Alessandro Michele bathed his fall runway in ultra violet-colored light at one point. Pantone 18-3838 is meant to “push the boundaries of what inspires us to look upward and outward to the future.” #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @kukukuba)