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The lawyer for former Tyco International Ltd. Chief Executive Officer L. Dennis Kozlowski told the jury Monday his client “never stole a dime from Tyco” and characterized the testimony of the company’s former directors as “revisionist history” aimed at making Kozlowski a “fall guy.” In his closing argument in the five-month Tyco trial, Stephen Kaufman urged the jury not to be prejudiced by what he called “irrelevant” prosecution evidence about Kozlowski’s personal life, including his lavish spending, love affairs and the party he threw on the Mediterranean island of Sardinia. “Whether you agree with that lifestyle or you disagree with that lifestyle, it is not a criminal act,” said Kaufman. The summation began after more than a week’s delay due to Kaufman’s illness. He started almost two hours late Monday because a juror fell ill. Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Michael Obus excused the juror and seated an alternate rather than delay further. The Manhattan district attorney’s office has charged Kozlowski and former Tyco Chief Financial Officer Mark Swartz with securities fraud, grand larceny and several other counts. The executives are accused of stealing some $170 million in unauthorized bonuses and loans. Swartz’s lawyer, Charles Stillman, gave his closing argument March 8. He expressed concern to Justice Obus that the unusually long period between his summation and the beginning of jury deliberations might prejudice his client’s case. Stillman said that other lawyers he has consulted did not know what might be done in such a situation. He asked to make a brief rebuttal after the prosecution’s closing argument. Obus said he would consider it. The prosecution, which is expected to give closing arguments today, has built its case largely on the testimony of former Tyco directors and employees. They have said Kozlowski and Swartz misused company loan programs and paid themselves bonuses never approved by the board. Soft-spoken for most of his summation, Kaufman raised his voice at several points to express outrage at the charges against Kozlowski and contempt for the ex-directors who testified against him. He said that through the 1990s, when Tyco stock soared so high that the company was worth more than General Motors, the directors were more than happy to let Kozlowski do whatever he wanted, including setting his own compensation and paying “investment banking fees” that included a $20 million payment to former director Frank Walsh for facilitating Tyco’s acquisition of the CIT Group Inc. “That’s how Dennis made his money,” said Kaufman. He noted that a Tyco document showed that the company’s annual revenue under Kozlowski grew from $3 billion to more than $30 billion. Now, said Kaufman, the directors, fearful of civil litigation over the collapse of Tyco’s stock, are trying to protect themselves by pinning the blame for it solely on Kozlowski. Kaufman asked jurors to consider Kozlowski’s actions in the context of the time at which they occurred. He noted that the world had changed since the 2001 CIT acquisition, with the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, and Enron and WorldCom scandals coloring memories of that period. The lawyer noted that Kozlowski never took any actions to conceal his activities, as a thief might be expected to. Kaufman said the absence of any subterfuge demonstrated that Kozlowski was “not a robber but a hard-working, focused CEO.”

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