Livent Founders Lose Appeal

Fraud convictions against Livent co-founders Garth Drabinsky and Myron Gottlieb were upheld in a Toronto court Sept. 14, while their prison sentences were reduced by two years each. The theatre company founders were arrested in 2002 and had been free on bail while awaiting appeal.

Drabinsky and Gottlieb were both convicted in 2009 on two counts of fraud and one country of forgery. Livent, shorthand for The Live Entertainment Corporation of Canada, went bankrupt in 1998 after producing hits including “Ragtime” and “Show Boat.”

The Toronto-based company filed for bankruptcy protection after the fraud was revealed by a new management team headed by former CAA chief Michael Ovitz, who invested in Livent.

Judge Mary Lou Benotto found Drabinsky and Gottlieb manipulated Livent’s statements over nine years to attract investors. The Tony award-winning producers claimed their accounting staff perpetrated the fraud without their knowledge.

Drabinsky must now serve five years and Gottlieb four.

Drabinsky lawyer Edward Greenspan said Drabinsky will be eligible for early release after 14 months. It’s not yet known if they plan to appeal to Canada’s Supreme Court.

Livent was once the largest live theatre company in North America. It owned or controlled theaters in New York, Chicago, Toronto and Vancouver and its Broadway productions have won 14 Tony Awards and have been nominated for dozens more.

Drabinsky and Gottlieb still face charges in the United States, where they were indicted in 1999 on charges they had misappropriated millions of dollars from investors.