Livent Duo Sentenced to Prison

Theater giants Gottlieb, Drabinsky accused of fraud.

Last Updated: August 5, 2009 @ 1:53 PM

Garth Drabinsky and Myron Gottlieb were sentenced to prison on Wednesday for defrauding investors in the Toronto-based production company Livent.

 

Drabinsky received seven years; Gottlieb received a six-year term. The maximum possible punishment was 14 years.

Rather than be sentenced to prison, the defendants asked if they could visit schools to lecture about their experience; several writers and actors, including Christopher Plummer, plead for leniency at the sentencing hearing.

 

Drabinsky and Gottlieb were charged in 2002 with lying about finances at the defunct theater company as they raised about $500 million over nine years.

 

The money was used to stage "event" shows, including "Phantom of the Opera," and to buy theaters.

 

They were found guilty back in March of two counts of fraud and one of forging a document; the verdicts came more than 10 years after police began investigating the duo.

 

Drabinsky and Gottlieb founded Livent in 1990, expanding it into North America’s biggest theatrical producer. Indeed, Liveent productions garnered 61 Tony Awards, with “Kiss of the Spider Woman” winning a best musical trophy.

 

Drabinsky and Gottlieb are fugitives from the U.S., having being indicted ten years ago on similar charges in New York.

 

In 1998, Michael Ovitz bought a 12 percent stake in Livent; Drabinsky and Gottlieb were fired later that year.

 

SFX Entertainment Inc., a unit of Clear Channel Communications Inc., bought Livent’s theaters and rights to productions in 1999 for $98 million.