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Ex-CA exec guilty in hush-money plot
Newsday Staff Writers

June 22, 2006
Another former high-level CA official has pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiracy to obstruct justice in what may be among the last in a long line of plea deals in the four-year accounting probe.

Thomas Bennett, 50, pleaded guilty yesterday to a single felony charge stemming from his role in attempting to cover up the $2.2-billion accounting scandal at the company formerly known as Computer Associates, prosecutors said.

Bennett, who issued his guilty plea yesterday morning without making a statement in Brooklyn federal court, faces up to 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. U.S. District Judge I. Leo Glasser is scheduled to sentence him Oct. 12.

As senior vice president of business development, Bennett reported directly to former CA chairman Sanjay Kumar, a longtime friend and confidant, until 2004, when he resigned. According to the charges against him, Bennett helped Kumar bribe two people - an employee of CA's former interBiz division and an executive at a CA client - to keep quiet about the fraudulent accounting.

Kumar and another former CA official, Stephen Richards, pleaded guilty to obstruction and securities fraud charges in April, just weeks before their trial was to begin in early May. Observers have speculated that the charges against Bennett, arising as they did on the eve of the trial, may have convinced Kumar and Richards to consider a guilty plea.

Bennett helped funnel $3.7million to the president of Enterprise Management Systems Inc., a CA client, to "buy his silence," according to court documents.

A second bribe of $600,000 allegedly went to an unnamed employee of interBiz, a former CA division, after the employee heard of the scheme at a meeting in Hawaii in 2003.

Bennett was arrested April 21 - the last of a roster of former CA executives who have either been charged or pleaded guilty, including its former chief financial officer, former general counsel and several vice presidents.

The CA accounting scandal first came to light in early 2002 when officials from the FBI and the Securities and Exchange Commission began investigating the company's financial records. At the heart of the charges was a conspiracy known internally as the "35-day month," in which officials improperly held open financial periods to pile on revenue to meet Wall Street's revenue and earnings expectations.

In a settlement with the government in 2004, the company agreed to pay $225 million in restitution to shareholders, institute a series of financial controls and host an independent monitor.

Michael Ross, Bennett's lawyer, declined to comment on the case after the hearing.

Bennett was released on a $500,000 bond.

Copyright 2006 Newsday Inc.




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