This post was written by Joelle E.K. Laszlo.
While it’s usually good to be the first to do something in Hollywood, it is decidedly not good when that something is violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”). Former power couple Gerald and Patricia Green are learning that lesson the hard way, as they spend the holidays and beyond in Federal prison. Though the Greens and the Government are appealing the six-month sentences handed down in August, it’s safe to say the Greens’ post-conviction lifestyle won’t come close to matching what it was before.
The Greens were originally indicted in January 2008 for bribing the former governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (“TAT”) in exchange for contracts to operate and manage the annual Bangkok International Film Festival (“BIFF”) from 2002 through 2007. In October 2008 the plot thickened as a superseding indictment added bribery charges related to several other TAT tourism programs. In all, and among other things, the Greens were accused of violating the FCPA ten times, ultimately paying out $1.8 million to generate nearly $14 million in revenue. In September 2009 a Los Angeles jury found the Greens guilty of nine FCPA violations and nearly all of the other charges against them.
Sentencing of the Greens was postponed numerous times over several months, as both sides battled to sway the court’s final act. The Justice Department, arguing that FCPA defendants who do not plead guilty or otherwise cooperate with the Government generally receive stricter sentences, asked for ten years in prison for each Green. Defense counsel requested five years’ probation, noting both that Mr. Green suffers from emphysema and that the BIFF generated substantial revenue for Thailand and its people, and thus there were no real victims from the Greens’ actions. After a final lengthy hearing, in August 2010 the Greens were sentenced to six months in prison each, followed by six months of home confinement.
Though the Greens’ prison sentences are some of the lightest ever received by FCPA defendants, there is no Hollywood ending to their story. Under a forfeiture agreement approved along with their sentences, each Green personally owes the Government nearly $1.05 million and any amount of their production company’s pension that can be traced to their offenses. The Justice Department intends to seize and sell a home owned by Mrs. Green to satisfy the judgment. And unable to muster any more funds for his defense, Mr. Green will be represented in his sentencing appeal by a court-appointed attorney. Thus the Greens’ saga is not really fodder for a future blockbuster, or even a movie of the week, though it may make for a good public service announcement on complying with the FCPA.