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Drabinsky, Gottlieb head back to court

Prosecution seeks 10-year sentence

TORONTO — The sentencing hearing for former Broadway producers Garth Drabinsky and Myron Gottlieb got under way Monday in Toronto, with the prosecution calling for a sentence of eight to 10 years for each defendant.

Drabinsky’s defense argued for a lenient sentence and read supporting statements from more than 40 friends, family and theater pros.

Charged in October 2002 with cooking the books at Livent, the now-defunct legit production company they co-founded, the two men were convicted March 25 on two counts of fraud and one of forgery, bilking investors of about C$500 million ($430 million). Broadway productions spawned by Livent include “Show Boat,” “Ragtime” and “Fosse.”

Each forgery count carries a maximum jail term of 14 years; the maximum for fraud is 10 years. The sentencing hearing is expected to run through Thursday, with Drabinsky and Gottlieb’s lawyers scheduled to make their arguments today.

The Canuck business partners built up Livent, a producing org and theater owner, from an initial ownership of a single theater in Toronto. During the company’s heyday in the 1990s, Drabinsky in particular acquired a rep for his freespending ways, with the 1994 Rialto staging of “Show Boat” heralded at the time as the most expensive tuner in Broadway history.

In January 1999, Drabinsky and Gottlieb were indicted in a New York court on charges they had misappropriated millions of dollars from American investors. The U.S. government put an extradition order on hold pending the results of the Canadian trial.

“Ragtime,” the 1998 Livent tuner closely associated with the concurrent travails of its producing org, will be revived on the Rialto this fall in a new production that originated earlier this year at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.

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