Ex-Tyco CEO Dennis Kozlowski Begged Parole Board for Mercy

Imprisoned Ex-Tyco CEO Dennis Kozlowskibegged for mercy from a parole board last week, before learning later that his plea had been rejected, a newly-released transcript of the proceeding showed Wednesday.

Dennis Kozlowski
Dennis Kozlowski

"I am asking you for your mercy," the 65-year-old disgraced former executive told a three-member New York State parole panel at the close of the April 4 video conference hearing. "I am asking you, in fact, I am not too proud to beg you, for your mercy here today."

The panel denied Kozlowski'sparole bid, his first application, ruling that releasing him early would tend to minimize his crimes and affect public safety.

The rejection means Kozlowski will remain a prison inmate at least until a second parole hearing expected in 2013. He's in the 79th month of an 8-1/3-to-25-year prison term for a 2005 conviction on charges he looted millions of dollars in bonuses loans and other payments from the global products and services company he once headed.

The case against Kozlowski — which featured luxurious perks like the $6,000 shower curtain that graced his $30 million Manhattan apartment — came to symbolize corporate greed during the bull market of the 1990s.

Kozlowski said he accepted responsibility for those crimes, the transcript showed.

"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."

"I'm very sorry I did that," he added.

Kozlowski said he had paid court-ordered restitution of $134 million, plus a $70 million criminal fine — payments he said forced him to sell the palatial homes, boat, stock investments and other assets he bought with his Tyco riches.

"I have very, very little left," he said.

Kozlowski said Manhattan prosecutors had informally offered him a two-year-to-six year sentence in exchange for a guilty plea, a deal he rejected because "at that time … I rationalized that I wasn't guilty."

But he told the parole panel he tried to make the best of his downfall behind bars, by tutoring other inmates studying for their high school equivalency degrees, obtaining a certificate of merit for completing a substance abuse program, and working as a prison laundry porter.

"I really spent a fair amount of my time reconnecting with my family, connecting with a priest who is a psychologist, (a) spiritual adviser to me," said Kozlowski.

Since Jan. 31, he's been housed in a minimum security correctional facility in upper Manhattan, a less than a two-mile subway ride and a lifetime away from his home during his Tyco days. Under a work-release program, Kozlowski said he spends Monday to Friday employed in a clerical job for an e-learning company that trains former inmates and veterans for job interviews.

He also told the panel that state Supreme Court Justice Michael Obus, who presided over his trial and sentencing, "stated, I believe a couple of times, that he does not believe me to be a security risk."

The panel members told Kozlowski they would take all those factors into consideration in their ruling. But one of the parole board members raised an issue that might have foreshadowed the panel's unanimous rejection vote.

Commissioner G. Kevin Ludlow noted that Kozlowski, while serving as Tyco CEO, called for the maximum prison term for Girish Kahn, an assistant controller who was convicted in 1995 of embezzling nearly $1 million from the company.

"I was asked to do this by somebody on our legal staff, and I signed a letter, like many, many other letters that I would sign," said Kozlowski, insisting he knew little about Kahn's case. "If I had to do that all over, I certainly wouldn't."

This story first appeared in USA Today.