Gemstar: No to Yuen plea

Sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 19

Gemstar-TV Guide Intl. asked a judge Tuesday to reject a plea deal for former chief executive Henry C. Yuen, arguing the exec deserved a harsher sentence for obstructing a federal investigation into company accounting practices.

Yuen, who was forced out of his management post in 2002 and later charged with inflating revenue, was expected to plead guilty to a felony charge of obstruction of justice on Tuesday. But U.S. District Court Judge John Walter said he needed additional information to determine whether to accept the plea.

Yuen’s sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 19. However, if Walter rejects the plea agreement, Yuen could face trial.

Yuen’s attorney, Stanley S. Arkin, did not immediately return calls for comment Tuesday. Gemstar-TV Guide declined further comment.

Under the terms of the plea deal, Yuen would be sentenced to two years probation, including six months of home detention. He would also have to pay a $250,000 fine, donate a total of $1 million to three charities that represent low-income victims of fraud, and be restricted from serving as an officer or director of a publicly traded company during the period of his probation.

In a brief submitted to the court, Gemstar officials argued the plea deal would not vindicate “the tens of thousands of other victims” across the nation who lost money because of Yuen’s scheme.

Yuen and Elsie Leung, Gemstar’s former chief financial officer, were charged with inflating the company’s revenue by nearly $250 million from March 2000 through September 2002 to meet revenue projections and to boost the company’s stock.

In February 2004, Gemstar-TV Guide agreed to pay $67.5 million to settle lawsuits by shareholders who alleged they were misled by the company’s accounting and financial practices. Four months later, the Los Angeles company agreed to pay a $10 million penalty to settle Securities and Exchange Commission allegations of revenue fraud, but did not admit to or deny the claims.

The company publishes TV Guide magazine and licenses its interactive program guide to cable operators and to consumer electronics companies. It is partly owned by News Corp.

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