NEW YORK — Nearly $25.8 million: That’s the amount that Aéropostale Inc.’s former chief merchandising officer, Christopher Finazzo, has to forfeit as a result of his conviction last week of mail and wire fraud and conspiracy charges.
Jurors in the Finazzo criminal fraud trial on Thursday returned guilty verdicts on 14 counts of mail fraud, one count of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy. The 12-member panel returned to court Monday to determine the forfeiture phase in which they unanimously decided in a special verdict that Finazzo must forfeit almost $25.8 million; all assets of a subsidiary of South Bay Apparel; four pieces of real estate in Calverton, N.Y., that the jury determined were acquired by the subsidiary from ill-gotten gains from the fraud and up to $300,000 in a TD Ameritrade account.
Finazzo, 57, was indicted in 2010 in connection with a multimillion dollar kickback scheme involving one of the retailer’s key vendors, South Bay Apparel. Government prosecutors presented evidence that Finazzo directed more than $350 million in orders while at Aéropostale to South Bay and in turn received more than $25 million in illegal kickbacks from the vendor.
U.S. District Court Judge Roslynn R. Mauskopf in Brooklyn told the jurors that they need to find a proper connection between each asset at issue and the convictions determined last week.
After statements from counsel on both sides and the recalling of one witness to the stand, Judge Mauskopf instructed jurors on the law, telling them that they need to find guilt only on the “preponderance of the evidence,” which means a “fact more likely true than not true.” It is a lower standard than that which jurors used last week to decide guilt on the crimes charged, which is proof beyond a reasonable doubt.
The forfeiture was sent to the jurors around noontime and the verdict was reached in two hours. Finazzo was calm, but seemed tired, as the verdict was read. One family member was present Monday, compared with the past three weeks when he was surrounded by family and friends in the courtroom.
According to legal sources, the government hasn’t made any determination yet on whether it will seek restitution in the case. That will be determined at sentencing, which could be in a few weeks.
The Securities and Exchange Commission and the Federal Bureau of Investigation assisted the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the investigation of the case.
Harrods plans to remove the famous statue of Princess Diana and Dodi Al Fayed from the bottom of the Egyptian escalators and hand it back to Mohamed Al-Fayed. “We are very proud to have played our role in celebrating the lives of Diana, Princess of Wales and Dodi Al Fayed at Harrods and to have welcomed people from around the world to visit the memorial for the past 20 years,” said Michael Ward, Harrods managing director. “With the announcement of the new official memorial statue to Diana, Princess of Wales at Kensington Palace, we feel that the time is right to return this memorial to Mr. Al Fayed and for the public to be invited to pay their respects at the palace.” More on the news, with reporting by @loreleimarfil, at WWD.com. #wwdnews
@prada is introducing a new project at its men’s fall 2018 show this Sunday: “Prada Invites.” The fashion house invited four celebrated creative minds – @ronanaerwanbouroullec, Konstantin Grcic, @herzogdemeuron and @rem.koolhaas – to each create a unique item with its iconic nylon material. The designs will be unveiled on the runway show, which will take place at the company’s warehouse in Viale Ortles 25. #wwdfashion #mfwm (📷: @martinocarrera)
@kering_official is spinning off its stake in puma in an effort to focus on its luxury brands, the brand operator announced yesterday. “We are proud to have supported the turnaround of Puma, which now has unrivaled capabilities to take full advantage of the specific dynamics of its global markets and is poised to achieve substantial growth,” said François-Henri Pinault, Kering’s chief executive officer and chairman. Artémis will become a “long-term strategic shareholder” of Puma with a 29 percent stake. #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @jilliansollazzo)
The fashion world mourns for celebrated street style photographer, Nabile Quenum, who died at age 32 in Paris.
Quenum, creator of the fashion blog “J’ai Perdu Ma Veste,” was a fashion week fixture, and regularly shot for New York magazine’s The Cut, among other outlets, and brands such as Louis Vuitton, Moncler and Adidas. He was also actively involved in the #NoFreePhotos initiative, which kicked off in the fall. Read more about Quenum in @kbsmoke's story on WWD.com. #wwdnews
@verwanggang and @maisonladuree have teamed up on a dessert collab called Vera Wang Pour Ladurée. The collection, which launched this week, features a specialty macaroon, as well as a wedding cake inspired by one of the designer’s gowns. “I could not imagine a more delicate or sophisticated creation to grace any couple’s celebration,” said Wang. #wwdfashion