It ain’t easy being Green, as the rest of Hollywood could soon discover. Gerald and Patricia Green were sentenced Thursday to six months in prison, followed by three years' probation, for their role in bribing Thai film-festival officials.
The 77-year-old Gerald Green, who uses an oxygen tank for his emphysema, and his 56-year-old wife will go into custody on Nov. 29. Six months of their probation will be served as in-home confinement.
Prosecutors wanted significantly more time, but Judge George Wu stated to a courtroom packed with Green supporters that he believed Gerald Green's various medical conditions would be exacerbated by a prolonged sentence.
"He's already in a prison," said Jerry Mooney, Green's lawyer, just before sentencing was imposed. "That prison is his body. Let him live out his final days there."
The judge also set a restitution figure of $250,000. However, if the Greens, who have had their accounts frozen and assets seized since being arrested in 2007, can prove that none of the $1.8 million they paid in bribes to Thai officials can be recovered, then they will only have to pay $3,000 in restitution.
Gerald Green, producer of “Salvador” and “Rescue Dawn,” and his wife were found guilty almost a year ago under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act on charges of bribery and money laundering. After many delays, the couple were finally sentenced Thursday in downtown Los Angeles.
The case could have big implications and inhibitions for the way studio productions do business overseas. The crimes in question occurred from 2002 to 2006, when the Greens, who were arrested in Dec. 2007, ran the Bangkok International Film Festival.
Before the trial, Mooney told TheWrap that the government has an unrealistic idea of the real cost of making movies outside North America and Western Europe.
“The fact is, in the movie business there are many things that have to be taken care of, and that have to be paid in local areas,” Mooney said.
The Greens are the first members of the entertainment industry to be prosecuted — and found guilty — under the FCPA. The core of the Department of Justice’s prosecution was a $1.8 million bribe paid to Juthamas Siriwan, the former governor of Thailand’s Tourism Authority and other Thai authorities.
Patricia Green also was found guilty on two counts of tax evasion.
The DOJ’s successful contention to the court during last year’s three-week trial was that those payments enabled the Greens, through a shadowy maze of fake receipts, shell companies and cash, to receive $14 million in Thai government contracts and grants for the festival. Government lawyers charged the Greens with pulling off an "orchestrated, sophisticated scheme."
The Greens’ lawyers have maintained during and since the trial that their clients never bribed anyone, but sought and gained contracts fairly in the environment in which such business is conducted.
The government asked that the couple spend 10 years in prison each; Jerry Mooney and Marilyn Bednarski, Patricia Green's lawyers, requested home detention and probation. But Judge Wu has repeatedly put off sentencing since the trial ended in September 2009, in almost every case because he wanted more information — including how Thailand had been actually harmed by the incidents; what the history of sentencing in similar bribery cases has been; and detailed medical history of Gerald Green.
During the trial and subsequent hearings Gerald Green appeared in court on several occasions with his oxygen tank. Wu sought a full medical report from Green’s doctors on the impact jail would have on his condition. The judge also granted a full response from the government, which argued on occasion that Green would actually get better and more immediate treatment in prison.