Tyco International Ltd. was one of the big companies that made a big splash in the business news during the first years of this new century. It was said that Tyco’s case was of a CEO accused of going bad.
Reporting included the excess monies spent by Dennis Kozlowski for a new apartment he hired a professional designer to furnish. The designer purchased things like a $6,000 shower curtain, a $15,000 dog-shaped umbrella stand, a $6,300 sewing basket $2,900 worth of coat hangers and a set of sheets costing $5,900. Catherine S. Neal starts her new book, Taking Down the Lion, with details of how decorating an apartment meant for business uses by the Tyco company helped bring down the CEO.
Neal takes a hard look at Kozlowski’s life during the years before he became CEO, during his tenure and through two trials ending in his conviction in the fall of 2005. The author reviewed a lot of research including transcripts and evidence from the two criminal trials. Plus, she had many interviews with Kozlowski himself.
The book examines whether Kozlowski was the “lying, cheating and stealing” CEO described by opening statements in the first trial by the assistant district attorney or if he was a person that lacked a few traits important to being a CEO of such a major company. Neal asks if maybe he was just not a detail person, or was he too trusting and too naïve?
According to the book, Kozlowski left his office in Boca Raton, FL on the evening of May 31, 2002 after being informed through a phone call that he was going to be indicted by the Manhattan District Attorney on sales tax evasion.
Neal starts the book with parts of the transcript of the June 17, 2005 court proceedings for The People of New York against L. Dennis Kozlowski & Mark H. Swartz, Defendants. She breaks the book into four parts, “Mogul Style,” which includes how Kozlowski becomes CEO of Tyco, “Timing is Everything”, “Ring Around the White-Collar of Criminal Justice” and “Inglorious Ending”.
Neal writes that Kozlowski was charged with “14 counts of grand larceny in the first degree, 16 counts of falsifying business records, a charge of conspiracy to commit larceny and possession of stolen property, and 1 count of securities fraud.” His first trial resulted in a mistrial in the spring of 2004 and his second trial began in mid-January in 2005. Kozlowski, writes Neal, was found guilty of 21 of 23 felony counts. She writes of his sentencing from the judge in the second trial, “I’m imposing indeterminate sentences on each of those counts involving the unauthorized compensation to the defendants of an indeterminate term of imprisonment of eight and one third to 25 years.”
This is a very detailed account of what happened to Kozlowski. The author includes several pages at the end of the book of her own personal lessons she learned from researching the book. She writes out 15 points that made sense to her at the end of the project.
One of her lessons include, “Cover your ass! CYA! Document everything, make sure everything is documented and recognize the risk in counting on other people to take care of important responsibilities for you.”
It will surprise readers to learn that there was no evidence presented at trail that Kozlowski ever got the bonuses he was accused of stealing from the company. The book offers a good look at what happened to Kozlowski and lets the reader decide if the evidence proves guilty or not.
Neal is also an associate professor of Business Ethics and Business law in the Haile/US Bank College of Business at Northern Kentucky University. She graduated the University of Cincinnati College of Law.