Garden City Man Sentenced to 8 Years for $25M Aéropostale Scam

A Garden City man who is the ex-chief marketing officer of clothing retailer Aéropostale was sentenced Wednesday to eight years in federal prison for his role in a decade-long, $25-million bribery scheme.

Christopher Finazzo, who was also the executive vice president of the company, was convicted last year at Brooklyn federal court of 16 counts of fraud and bribery.

Prosecutors said the 57-year-old man directed more than $350 million in t-shirt and fleece business to South Bay Apparel Inc., a company owned by Hollywood movie producer Douglas Dey, in exchange for more than $25 million in kickbacks.

“Finazzo lied on numerous disclosure forms and caused Aéropostale to make false filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission,” said Loretta Lynch, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York. “These lies and false representations compromised the financial well-being of a publicly-traded retail company.”

Dey had pleaded guilty in September 2012 to conspiracy to violate the Travel Act through commercial bribery for his role in the scheme and was sentenced earlier this month to 3 ½ years in prison.

Finazzo and Dey hatched the scheme after Finazzo was hired by Aéropostale in 1996, authorities said. Over the following decade, Finazzo had Aéropostale buy more than $350 million in t-shirt and fleece merchandise from South Bay, often for significantly higher prices and lower quality than was available from other suppliers.

Finazzo ignored his boss’ direction to use other t-shirt suppliers and threatened employees who made similar suggestions.

The kickbacks were paid through C&D Retail Consultants, a shell company set up by Finazzo, and through companies jointly-owned by the two schemers.

Judge Roslynn Mauskopf also sentenced Finazzo to 3 years supervised release, ordered him to forfeit more than $25 million to the government, and pay $13,690,822.94 in restitution to Aéropostale.

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