LOS ANGELES — Former Sirena Apparel Group chief financial officer Richard Gerhart pleaded guilty to nine counts of securities fraud in federal court here Tuesday. Sentencing is set for Aug. 13. Gerhart faces a maximum possible sentence of 85 years in prison and a fine of $8.25 million on felony charges of conspiracy, making false statements to the SEC and accounting fraud.
A judge rejected Gerhart’s earlier attempt to plead guilty, after last minute quibbling broke out among the lawyers over the indictment’s wording.
At the hearing Tuesday, Gerhart’s lawyer filed a written statement qualifying some portions of the indictment, but leaving the substance of the charges standing.
“I think the evidence is actually a little bit stronger against him [than the written statement indicates],” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Gregory Weingart. “But what [Gerhart] was willing to admit was enough to find him guilty.”
Gerhart’s attorney did not return a call at press time.
Maurice (Corky) Newman, Sirena’s former chief executive officer, pleaded guilty to three counts of securities fraud on April 11. Sentencing for Newman is set for June 25. Newman faces a possible maximum sentence of 25 years in prison and a $2.25 million fine.