Hilfiger Unit Ex-CFO Pleads Guilty to $19m Fraud

Handbag and leather-goods licensee's finance chief from 2000 through 2007 padded his salary and bonus amounts, he says in a plea agreement with a New York U.S. attorney.

The former finance chief of a Tommy Hilfiger Group licensee pleaded guilty to mail fraud and wire fraud for allegedly stealing more than $19 million, according to Michael Garcia, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York.

Martin Bodner, the former finance chief of Tommy Hilfiger Handbags and Small Leather Goods Inc., the licensee, faces a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison. Under a plea deal, he agreed to forfeit a home in the tony Long Island, N.Y., community of Sands Point, along with a Manhattan apartment, three cars, and various other property.

According to Garcia, Bodner began working at the Hilfiger licensee in March 2000, eventually rising to CFO. Among his responsibilities was to supervise the company’s payroll. He was fired Dec. 21, 2007.

Beginning in about the middle of 2000, Bodner began stealing money from his employer by secretly increasing the amount of money that he was to be paid in salary and bonus, and arranging to be reimbursed by the handbag and leather-goods unit for phony expenses he purportedly had incurred, Garcia said. In addition, Bodner added one of his sons, who did not work for the company during the years 2004 and 2005, to the company’s payroll. He arranged for his son to be paid about $225,500 during those years.

Bodner also was accused of causing hundreds of checks to be issued to various recipients for the purpose of paying off his personal credit card bills; purchasing a luxury automobile for himself; paying for insurance for a home, apartments, and automobiles owned by Bodner; and paying for decorating services.

Bodner is scheduled to be sentenced on Nov. 5.

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