Christopher Finazzo, ex-Aeropostale bigwig, gets 8 years for taking $25M in kickbacks

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Former Aeropostale bigwig Christopher Finazzo of Garden City was sentenced to eight years in prison in federal court in Brooklyn on Wednesday for taking $25 million in kickbacks from a Calverton T-shirt maker in return for funneling $350 million in orders.

Finazzo, 58, the retailer's former second-in-command, got a 30-minute tongue-lashing from U.S. District Judge Roslynn Mauskopf, who said he stole despite a $14 million annual pay package and then used his wealth to help only himself and his family.

"With all of Mr. Finazzo's considerable wealth, none of it was contributed to the greater good," the judge said. " . . . The motive here is pure greed. There are no extenuating circumstances. There are aggravating circumstances. Sheer greed from a man who made millions."

Finazzo was convicted last year of scheming with Douglas Dey of Southold to direct T-shirt and fleece business from the trendy clothing company to Dey's South Bay Apparel and to split the profits. Dey, who pleaded guilty, was sentenced to 31/2 years in prison.

Prosecutors said Finazzo used his clout as chief merchandising officer from 1996 to his firing in 2006 to force underlings to favor South Bay over other suppliers that would have been cheaper or better and set up a shell consulting company to receive kickbacks.

Federal sentencing guidelines called for at least nine years in prison, based largely on the amount of money. Finazzo and his lawyer admitted the kickback deal was a conflict of interest but disputed whether Aeropostale was actually overcharged and urged leniency.

"I am very remorseful," Finazzo said to Mauskopf as a courtroom filled with his friends and family looked on. " . . . I'm not looking for mercy for me. I'm looking for mercy for my family."

Although the judge gave him a year less than the guidelines, she said a harsh sentence was justified -- complaining that he betrayed friends at Aeropostale, retaliated against workers who questioned his edicts on South Bay and was more inclined to minimize his crime than show remorse.

Calling it a "breathtaking display of greed and hubris" and a "staggering display of corporate corruption," she said Finazzo had "never . . . acknowledged the damage he caused."

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In addition to prison, Finazzo was ordered to pay $13 million in restitution to Aeropostale and forfeit more than $25 million. He was given up to 60 days to report to prison.

"I'm glad it's over," Finazzo said after the sentencing. He declined further comment.

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