Drabinsky, Gottlieb head to the courthouse

TORONTO — An Ontario judge has ruled that there is enough evidence to try Livent founder Garth Drabinsky, his partner Myron Gottlieb and other former Livent execs on numerous fraud charges.

Drabinsky and Gottlieb, the founders of the defunct theater company, former VP finance Gordon Eckstein and former chief operating officer Robert Topol are accused of cooking the books and defrauding investors to the tune of C$500 million ($404 million) between 1989 and 1998.

An Ontario judge ruled April 6 that Drabinsky and Gottlieb, originally charged with 19 counts of fraud over $5,000, would go to trial on 18 counts, Eckstein on 17. The preliminary hearing began in January.

Drabinsky, Gottlieb and Eckstein are to appear in Ontario Superior Court on May 25, when a date for trial will be set, while prosecutors have asked for Topol’s case to go straight to trial and will speak to the matter on April 19.

Founded in 1990, Livent earned world renown with ambitious productions such as “Show Boat” and “Phantom of the Opera” until the company ran into trouble after being bought out by Michael Ovitz in 1998.

Drabinsky and Gottlieb were fired after Ovitz examined the books. That lead to criminal charges in the U.S. and Canada as well as numerous civil suits and countersuits between parties related to the company. The duo have always maintained their innocence.

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