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Trial of Former Iconix Neil Cole Begins With Horowitz Fired By Baked By Melissa Prostitution Concealed

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon Song Vlog Podcast
BBC - Guardian UK - Honduras - The Source

SDNY COURTHOUSE, Oct 5 – Neil Cole, the brand manager charged with financial chicanery was freed on $1 million bond on December 5, 2019 and allowed to travel throughout the United States by agreement of the US Attorney's Office, contrary to the "SDNY and EDNY only" restrictions they routinely place on less affluent defendants.

SDNY Magistrate Judge Barbara Moses accepted the agreed bail conditions, and said that they can be appealed or asked to be modified before SDNY Judge Edgardo Ramos to whom the case was assigned.

On October 6, 2021, the jury trial began and Inner City Press live tweeted it here, podcast here, vlog here:

Assistant US Attorney Solowiejczyk: The defendant, Neil Cole, got caught red-handed, lying. This case is about lying. Lie after lie. I want to walk you through three sets of lies.

First, to investors. He was the CEO of Iconix, a fashion company but it didn't make clothes. AUSA: Iconix owned brands. It had to file quarterly reports - thank of them like a check under the hood of a car. They are critically important to investors. The defendant was having Iconix lie about revenue.

AUSA Solowiejczyk: In the 2d quarter of 2014, Iconix had to bring in money to meet predictions. So defendant chose to lie. He went to executives at the Business Partner and he proposed a secret deal. They were supposed to pay $10 million, but Cole said, $15 million

AUSA: The extra $5 million wasn't really Iconix' money. Because the defendant was going to send it right back. This was not a one-off. Next, defendant had to hide his dirty deals from auditors. He had to make up a cover story for the $5M - as marketing expenses

 AUSA: When the Business Partner set invoices that didn't look right, defendant told them to change them to try to make them look more legitimate. Then the defendant lied to the SEC.

 AUSA: You are going to hear from former COO Seth Horowitz. He has committed crimes. But he had pleaded guilty to his crimes. He has a cooperation agreement that requires him to testify. [What about concealing... #Whorowitz?

AUSA: You will hear from executives from the Business Partner. But they will have a form of immunity. You will hear from the auditors. Pay close attention. Use your common sense. If you do that, the defendant will get a fair trial [but] you will find him guilty.

Cole's lawyer: This case never should have been brought. It involves contacts between Iconix and another well-established company. The evidence will show that there was no scheme, no obligations other than what was in the contracts.

Cole's lawyer: The facts will demonstrate that Mr. Cole did not believe there was anything improper. First, some background on Neil Cole. He is a leader in developing and marketing brands. He's considered a visionary. He is a life long New Yorker.

 Cole's lawyer: Neil worked hard to build Iconix. It had over 30 brands: Snoopy, London Fog, Joe Boxer. [No mention of Jay-Z or Roca]. Iconix employed people here and in the UK. Iconix licensed Danskin to Wal-Mart.

 Cole's lawyer: You will learn that BDO signed off on the deals. The SEA-2 transaction also, there was no side commitment. You will see the contracts, ladies and gentlemen, and you will see they contain no further commitments. They say, this is the entire agreement

 Cole's lawyer: I suspect that the government's cooperating witness will say Neil had a side agreement. But Horowitz is not credible. He is not to be trusted. [#Whorowitz? Cole's lawyer: Horowitz felt disrespected by Neil. Things came to a head. Horowitz was being blamed for the issues in the SEC comment letter, about puts.  #Putz

Cole's lawyer: Horowitz was being accused of negotiating these terms without Neil's involvement. Things got over the top - Horowitz decided to point the finger at Neil, the big fish, the CEO. Years later when the government offered him a deal, he took it.

Cole's lawyer: Horowitz kept self-serving diaries and notes. But they don't even mention side deals. Nor in his resignation letter. His conversation with Neil is a fiction. It's a fiction.

 Cole's lawyer: The only just verdict is not guilty. Thank you. Judge Ramos: Government, call your first witness. AUSA: The Government calls Seth Horowitz. #Whorowitz

 AUSA: Mr. Horowitz are you currently employed? Horowitz: No. AUSA: What was your last job? Horowitz: CEO of Baked by Melissa. My employment ended when I pled guilty to charges of fraud in December of 2019.

 AUSA: Why did you plead guilty? Horowitz: Because I am guilty. AUSA: Could you identify Neil Cole? Horowitz: He is wearing a striped tie and a light colored mask. AUSA: When did you join Iconix? Horowitz: 2012.

 Horowitz: Iconix owed Rocawear and 39 other brands.  AUSA: What were your previous jobs? Horowitz: I was with the boxing equipment and licensing company Everlast. Prez of Modell Sporting Goods. Then Neil interviewed me, for a job atop Rocawear that Jay-Z owned

Judge Ramos calls the break.

Back on December 29, the US Attorney's Office opposed Cole's subpoena served on Baked by Melissa, where Seth Horowitz, a Government cooperating witness, was the CEO. The US Attorney's Office says the information sought is not relevant, but rather a fishing expedition.

On January 4 Cole's lawyers at Paul Weiss wrote to Judge Ramos, "We understand that Seth Horowitz, now a cooperating witness for the government, also was scheduled to provide SEC testimony in late 2018, but that at or around the same time that Mr. Cole's testimony was rescheduled, Mr. Horowitz's testimony was canceled, likely at the request of the U.S. Attorney's Office, to prevent Mr. Horowitz from testifying and avoid creating a record that could be helpful to Mr. Cole... In July 2020, counsel for Mr. Cole submission a FOIA request to the SEC."

On September 10, Cole filed a motion in limine seeking to exclude evidence of his sale of a million shares of Iconix stock, saying allowing it in would create "unfair prejudice."

On  October 3, Cole insisted there should only be vaccinated jurors on his jury, while redacting two full lines and a footnote of his submission.

On October 5, after picking the jury and before opening statements begin October 6 at 9:30 am, Judge Ramos explained why like EDNY Judge Donnelly in the R.Kelly trial, he did not require prospective jurors to be vaccinated.

Then, in open court, Cole's lawyer said he wants to cross examining cooperation witness Seth Horowitz about concealment of prostitution related activities. Judge Ramos said that question will not be allowed - and when the Assistant US Attorney asked to seal the transcript, Judge Ramos agreed. But it was in open court. Can you say, #Whorowitz?

On September 30 in an in-person final pre trial conference, Cole's lawyer argued that hearing "$28 million" would be prejudicial. The AUSA said it show motive, and Judge Ramos agreed, citing US v. Quattrone, 441 F.3d 153, 179-80 (2d Cir. 2006).

 Inner City Press will continue to cover the trial.

Watch this site.

The case is US v. Cole, 19-cr-869 (Ramos).


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