If you’re looking for a solid alibi, you can’t do much better than having your picture taken with a U.S. president in Washington, D.C. at the time when you are supposedly also in a meeting allegedly cooking your company’s books. Edward Greenspan may be hoping that a picture of his client, Garth Drabinsky, at a Washington lunchwith then President Bill Clinton will be enough to convince the judge overseeing the Livent criminal fraud trial that the damning evidence given so far by former Livent senior accountant Gordon Eckstein cannot be believed.
The photo in question was taken April 24, 1998, during a period in which Eckstein had previously testified he had met with Drabinsky to go over proposed accounting manipulations in the company’s first quarter financials.
Those alleged manipulations were outlined in a simplified spreadsheet of the company’s financials printed on April 23rd and scrawled with notes in Eckstein’s handwriting. Eckstein had previously testified that at least some of those handwritten notes appeared to have been made during that face-to-face meeting with Drabinsky. He also agreed with Greenspan in testimony earlier today that the meeting must have occurred sometime on the afternoon of April 23rd.
But Greenspan confronted Eckstein with a bill showing that Drabinsky had chartered a private plane on that day to fly to New York for a meeting with Michael Ovitz and Roy Furman the men who would ultimately purchase a controlling stake in Livent and uncover what prosecutors allege was a massive fraud at the theatre company. When Eckstein volunteered that perhaps Drabinsky was not on the plane, Greenspan shot back: “There’s another alternative, which is that he did leave and you are a liar,” he told the court.
The meeting could also not have taken place on April 24th, since Drabinsky was in Washington attending that Democratic Party luncheon with Bill Clinton in which Ragtimewas the theme.
Greenspan is trying to counter Eckstein’s earlier assertions that financial manipulations at Livent were made under the explicit direction of Garth Drabinsky and Myron Gottlieb and instead suggest the Eckstein alone was the mastermind of the alleged fraud. Both Drabinsky and Gottlieb have pleaded not guilty to two counts of fraud and one count of forgery in connection with the collapse of the company. “I’d suggest to you that in every quarter, you directed the staff to manipulate the results before you showed an income statement to Garth Drabinsky, Myron Gottlieb or Robert Topol (Livent’s former chief operating officer),” Mr. Greenspan said.
“That’s incorrect,” Mr. Eckstein repeated.
Eckstein suggested that perhaps the meeting occurred on another day and that he had always testified that he did not know the actual date of the meeting. When shown previous testimony where he agreed that the meeting took place on April 24, Eckstein noted that his questioners suggested that date and it “seemed reasonable at the time.”
And while Greenspan’s confrontation with Eckstein was certainly dramatic, it’s unclear how much damage was done to his credibility. After all, Eckstein testified, none of his handwritten notes on the spreadsheet in question indicate accounting manipulations, but rather legitimate questions about the companys finances.
And that alleged meeting with Drabinsky, it was also attended by former Livent controller Chris Craib, who is scheduled to testify later in the trial.