Livent founder one step closer to trial

A correction was made to this article on Dec. 20, 2006.

The cases of Livent founder Garth Drabinsky and other former executives of the defunct theater company will be one step closer to trial in Canada after an appearance at a Toronto courthouse today.

The routine appearance relating to alleged misdeeds by the former impresario, Livent founding partner Myron Gottlieb and former VP of finance Gordon Eckstein is procedural, mainly to set the trial date, location and judge.

Former Livent chief operating officer Robert Topol is scheduled to appear in another Toronto courtroom today, also on procedural matters. His dealings with the court are being handled separately.

Drabinsky and Gottlieb face 16 counts of fraud, Eckstein 15 counts and Topol nine counts, all relating to sums over C$5,000 ($4,337). They are free on bail in Canada. Drabinsky also faces criminal charges in the U.S.

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

Drabinsky and Gottlieb were fired after Ovitz examined the books. That led to criminal charges in the U.S. and Canada, as well as numerous civil suits and countersuits between parties related to the company.

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