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.
My character, Dinah Madani, is just the coolest, [most] badass woman imaginable," says @amberroserevah. The actress stars in @marvel's newest series on @netflix, @thepunisher. To prepare for her role, Revah sat down with Homeland agents to get a real sense of with Dinah's day-to-day life is really like. Read our full interview on WWD.com. #wwdeye (📷: @jilliansollazzo)
A scene from the 91st annual @macys Thanksgiving Day Parade. The parade, which boasts 50 million TV viewers and 3.5 million on-site spectators, is considered one of the largest and most watched parades in the world. (📷: Jason Szenes/EPA-REX)
The circus came to @bloomingdales 59th Street on Tuesday night and lit up Lexington Avenue with acrobatic dancers, death-defying knife throwing, sword swallowing and aerial acts with no net. The 45 minutes of theatrics built up to unveiling the holiday windows depicting @swarovski crystal-encrusted circus pieces and scenes from “The Greatest Showman” – songs from the soundtrack included. See the rest of the photos on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: Joshua Scott)
The psychedelic fashion that pervaded the ’60s is back with an exhibit at the @museumofcityny. “Mode New York: Fashion Takes a Trip” chronicles the changing styles from 1960 through 1973 and features designers such as @ysl, @oscardelarenta and more. The exhibition, which is on display through April 1, is organized into four periods: First Lady Fasion, Youthquake, New Bohemia and New Nonchalance. Pictured here is model Pat Bardonella during the Garvey Day Parade in 1968. (📷: @kwamebphoto) #wwdeye #wwdfashion
“People should be a lot more honest in expressing both the dark and light of themselves. We need to give each other the space to do that because it’s the only way we can grow and evolve,” says @noelwells of her new film “Mr. Roosevelt,” which is largely based on her own struggles. Unexpectedly leaving @nbcsnl in 2014 after just one season, Wells felt set back in her self-esteem and career trajectory. She quickly refocused her energy to more personal projects, which led to the completion of “Mr. Roosevelt.” Read the rest of WWD’s interview with the “Master of None” actress on WWD.com #wwdeye (📷: @jilliansollazzo)
@barbrastreisand is giving fans a chance to see her perform up close in a new concert series, which makes its debut on @Netflix today. From behind-the-scenes takes to her concert performance in Miami last December, the two-hour streaming special captures Streisand in her element. Pictured here is the singer/actress photographed for WWD in 1963. (📷: Palmieri Tony) #wwdeye #wwdarchive
@chanel and @pharrell dropped what’s being dubbed as the world’s most exclusive sneakers yesterday. The Adidas Originals NMD Hu, which Williams designed in collaboration with Chanel and @adidasoriginals, has a waiting list of over 120K people who pre-registered online at chanelatcolette.fr –– and only 500 pairs are on sale. The singer predicted the resale value of the shoes could reach $40K. Read the full interview on WWD.com. Link in bio. #wwdfashion (📷: Dominique Maître)
@imanshumpert is diving deeper into his creative endeavors and relaunching his clothing line, Post 90s, and is helping to raise money for the hurricane victims in St. Maarten with a jersey he’s designed with his brother. The Cleveland Cavaliers player talked to WWD about kneeling during the national anthem, working with fashion brands and how he wants to be more than an @nba player. Read the interview on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: George Chinese)