Systemax director Carl Fiorentino bribery trial moves to Florida
Feds ice Long Island for FLA: Case to be tried where alleged offences occurred
The trial of former Systemax director Carl Fiorentino has been moved from New York to Florida, where he was based when the alleged bribery offences are claimed to have occurred.
Fiorentino, a one-time president of subsidiary Tiger Direct, stands accused of pocketing more than $7m in kickbacks from component suppliers in Taiwan and California in return for steering $230m worth of higher priced orders their way.
He has denied the claims and plans to fight them in court.
A motion to move the hearing from Long Island to the Sunshine State was made in October, with his legal team arguing that most of the witnesses - for both the defendant and prosecution - are based there and that the alleged violations purportedly took place there.
Fiorentino's lawyers also pointed out he was a lifelong resident of Florida and needs to care for his elderly and infirm mother, who became acutely ill last May and resides in Miami.
The team added that he has been unemployed for the past two years since leaving Systemax, is living off his savings and fighting the case in the Big Apple would cost him $44,600 for a six-week trial.
New York district Judge Sandra Feuerstein gave the green light for relocating the trial to the Southern District Court in Florida (SDFL) on the basis that the allegations took place in the state.
"Had the defendant not engaged in the alleged scheme from the Tiger Direct offices in Florida, there would be no case. New York is only involved by virtue of Systemax's choice to locate its office in that state," she said in a court filing.
She added that Fioretino, as we previously reported, is also the subject of a separate ongoing civil case against him in Florida brought by Robert Leeds, the founder and CEO at Systemax, and his two brothers – who are also directors at the reseller.
The civil case was filed in Miami in January 2012.
"The court finds these circumstances, the seemingly related ongoing investigation into the defendant's business practices in Florida as well as the location of defendant's character witnesses, weigh in favour of transferring venue to [Florida]," said Feuerstein.
Fiorentino's brother Gilbert - who also left Systemax in 2011 - was barred by the SEC from being the director of a PLC back in 2012. This was after it found that he had "fraudulently" banked $400k in compensation from firms that traded with Systemax between 2006 and 2010. The federal agency also alleged that he had stolen $200k worth of company merchandise. He was forced to pay a $65k penalty. ®