NEW YORK — Ten years after a massive accounting fraud was uncovered at apparel powerhouse The Leslie Fay Cos. Inc., its former chief executive officer, Paul Polishan, has moved closer to spending time in jail.

U.S. attorney Thomas Marino, in Harrisburg, Pa., said that Polishan, convicted in July 2000 for orchestrating an elaborate $131 million financial fraud that ultimately led to Leslie Fay’s bankruptcy in April 1993, is expected to begin serving his nine-year sentence now that the federal appeals court hearing his appeal has affirmed his conviction and sentence.

No date has been set for the commencement of his incarceration. Polishan could still seek a reargument by the appellate court, or file for review by the U.S. Supreme Court. Whether he could remain free pending resolution of either of those options, assuming he elects to pursue the matter further, would depend on the discretion of a federal district court judge.

Efforts to reach Polishan and his attorneys for comment Tuesday were unsuccessful.

He was indicted in October 1996 after an investigation that lasted more than three years, beginning when Leslie Fay’s audit committee publicly announced that unsupported entries were made in the company’s books and records during 1991 and 1992, which significantly inflated earnings for those periods.

The firm exited bankruptcy proceedings in June 1997 and was reorganized as a much smaller company. It changed its name to LF Brands this year.

It was one of the more dramatic and most publicized cases involving a scheme of “cooking the books” that the apparel industry had seen up to that time or since. U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Vanaskie found Polishan guilty of 18 of the 21 charges lodged against him. The trial lasted 36 days over the course of four months. He was sentenced in January 2002 but has since remained free on bail pending his appeal.

The only other Leslie Fay employee to have been indicted in the case was former controller Donald Kenia, who pled guilty in October 1994 to filing false information with the Securities and Exchange Commission in exchange for his testimony against Polishan. He was sentenced on Oct. 9, 2001, to serve a two-year jail term, followed by two years of supervised release and 500 hours of community service.

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