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Invoices, Lies & Four Trips to The Pokey

November 2002
We're in the nation's third-largest manufacturing business—I believe that's what I read about the commercial printing industry a while back. So naturally, given its size (and highly fragmented nature, you consolidators out there love to point out), there is bound to be a certain measure of the corrupt among us.

We are reminded of this periodically and, as a news outlet, there's an obligation for us to report on even the most sordid and shameful escapades of our brethren (and sisteren). A most recent example capped a federal investigation into New York printers and an advertising agency amidst charges of bid rigging, bribery, mail fraud and other offenses.

Entering the Hall of Shame are four gentlemen who pleaded guilty in September for conspiratorial activities:

The Guilty

Gabriel Casas, a former salesman for Manhattan-based The Color Wheel; Howard Marlin, CEO/owner of print broker Caysun Graphics; and Bertram Cohen, owner of Darby Offset, all of whom will celebrate the new year with January sentencing dates. Joseph Panaccione (aka Joe Payne), vice president and manager of graphics services at Grey Advertising, later entered a plea of guilty.

Casas pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and one count of antitrust conspiracy. Marlin pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit tax fraud. Cohen was nailed for one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, one count of conspiracy to defraud the Internal Revenue Service and to commit tax fraud.

Papers were filed on all the aforementioned, along with a laundry list of co-conspirators, in U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York. Haluk Ergulec, Color Wheel owner, and Birj Deckmejian—like Casas, a salesman with Color Wheel—were indicted this past May by a federal grand jury for conspiring to defraud certain Grey clients in a rigged billing plot in a period from 1991 until 2000.

Ex-Grey Executive Vice President Mitchell Mosallem, Panaccione's boss, is also named as co-conspirator. And now, the juicy plot, courtesy of the court papers on the case against Casas:

Casas was primarily responsible for servicing Grey Advertising of Manhattan, which provides advertising, marketing, public relations and media services. With 12,000 employees in 90 countries, it is one of the largest ad agencies in the known universe. One of Grey's customers was Brown & Williamson Tobacco (B&W), best known for its line of smokes, including Kool, Lucky Strike and Pall Mall.
 

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