IMPRISONED FORMER TYCO CEO DENNIS KOZLOWSKI SAYS THE JURY CONDEMNED HIM FOR HIS HUGE SALARY IN HIS FIRST NETWORK TELEVISION INTERVIEW -- "60 MINUTES"
Symbol of Corporate Excess Who Made $100 Million a Year Now Makes $1 a Day
Making over $100 million a year made a jury believe he was guilty of stealing, says former Tyco CEO Dennis Kozlowski in his first network television interview. Kozlowski was convicted of stealing more than $100 million from Tyco and now makes a dollar a day in prison serving an 8-to-25-year sentence. The former high-flying chief executive talks to Morley Safer for a 60 MINUTES interview to be broadcast Sunday, March 25 (7:00-8:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.
"I was a guy sitting in a courtroom making $100 million a year," says Kozlowski, now living in an upstate New York penitentiary. "And I think a juror sitting there just would have to say, 'All that money? He must have done something wrong.' I think...it's as simple as that," he tells Safer.
Kozlowski also believes his case was hurt when his face became associated with others to form a Mt. Rushmore of convicted white-collar criminals, including Martha Stewart, former Worldcom head Bernie Ebbers and Enron CEO Ken Lay. "That frustrated me no end. [Worldcom and Enron] were companies that had financial and accounting schemes....That wasn't Tyco. This was a major pay dispute," contends Kozlowski.
He and his second in command were charged with stealing $170 million from Tyco, granting themselves unauthorized bonuses, and running hundreds of millions of dollars in personal expenses through interest-free company loan programs. Although he had already repaid many of the loans, the jury found him guilty of grand larceny. He insisted at trial that the disputed bonuses were, in fact, compensation he was authorized to receive, but he had no documents to prove it and the Tyco executive who could vouch for this had died.
"I am absolutely not guilty of the charges....There was no criminal intent here," Kozlowski tells Safer. "Nothing was hidden. There were no shredded documents....All the information the prosecutors got was directly off the books and records of the company."
One of the expenses found on the books was half the cost of an opulent Roman-themed birthday party for his wife costing more than $2 million. The four-day affair on the Italian island of Sardinia was called a company getaway as employees attended, but videotape of the event featuring a decadent scene with dozens of toga-clad male and female entertainers became a media sensation. "It was absolutely horrible [having the tape played in court]," recalls Kozlowski. "[The party] was over the top....I was taken aback by it, but I smiled and worked my way through it. [I] wanted the night to end..."
More fodder for tabloid headlines was a $15,000 umbrella stand and a $6,000 shower curtain found among the items charged to Tyco for decorating a company apartment he says he first heard about in the newspaper. "I signed off on a decorator and...that was my involvement.....To this day I wouldn't know [the shower curtain] if it fell on me," says Kozlowski.
The former CEO says many of his friends from his former posh life have abandoned him since his conviction. "They wanted to share in [my power and wealth]. That was probably 90 percent of the people in my life," Kozlowski tells Safer. And a recent health scare convinced him to talk to 60 MINUTES. "When I was in the hospital in January...feeling uncomfortable and frightened ...that's when I made the firm decision that I...wanted to talk to you at this time," he tells Safer.
For a preview of Sunday's interview, in which Kozlowski comments on the Sardinian affair and the jury in his trial, go to: http://www.cbsnews.com/sections/i_video/main500251.shtml?id=2595978n