Dennis Kozlowski, Tyco Electronics
If there was a poster child for excess in the late 1990s-early 2000s, it might well have been Dennis Kozlowski, then CEO of manufacturer Tyco Electronics.
Kozlowski (Image source: biography.com)
Kozlowski was known for lavish spending and legendary parties while leading Tyco. That and other things, like a multimillion-dollar art purchase and a large compensation package that sparked a controversy that led him to quit Tyco in 2002, drew the attention of authorities who ultimately put the CEO on trial for misappropriating more than $400 million in corporate funds.
"The question of the case wasn't whether he took the money (he did), but rather whether he was authorized to do so," a 60 Minutes report said.
A jury in June 2005 found him guilty of "22 of 23 counts of conspiracy, securities fraud, grand larceny and falsifying records, and acquitted him on one charge," according to a Forbes article. The former CEO was sentenced to serve 8.33 to 25 years in state prison, fined $70 million and ordered to pay restitution totaling, ultimately, $134 million. Along with Kozlowski, former Tyco CFO Mark H. Swartz was found guilty of grand larceny, securities fraud, conspiracy, and eight of nine counts of falsifying records.
For some folks, however, there is still a question as to whether Kozlowski was really a bad CEO. Kozlowski himself maintained that the company remained profitable during his tenure.
"From the beginning, when I moved into Tyco, it was a $24 million-a-year company, and when I left as CEO, it was almost a $40 billion-a-year company," he told the New York Post in October 2006.
However, at an April 2012 parole board hearing reported on by USA Today, he admitted responsibility for taking the money. "Back when I was running Tyco, I was living in a CEO-type bubble," he said. "I had a strong sense of entitlement at that time, and I had a sense of greed, and in doing so I stole money from Tyco," he said.
Conceivably, Kozlowski could be back in the picture sooner than later. Since March, he's been on work release, and will be eligible for parole again in late 2013 or early 2014.