Bilzerian Pleads Not Guilty to Fraud Charges
Takeover speculator and Singer Co. Chairman Paul A. Bilzerian, indicted last month on 12 counts of fraud, pleaded not guilty Thursday and said that he hopes to clear his name and resume hunting for companies to buy.
“My role going forward was to have been, and should still be, to look for further acquisitions,” Bilzerian told reporters.
The 38-year-old financier, known for his bulging mustache and casual open-shirt dress, wore a dark business suit and tie to his arraignment in Manhattan federal court.
His lawyer, Arthur Mathews, told reporters, “Mr. Bilzerian is innocent. It’s unfortunate these charges were brought. It’s burdensome to defend them, but they will be defended and he will be vindicated.”
Singer Not Involved
After Bilzerian entered his plea, he was ordered to entrust his passport to Mathews. He was freed on a $500,000 personal recognizance bond pending trial, scheduled for May 1 before U.S. District Judge Robert J. Ward. The trial is expected to last six to eight weeks.
Bilzerian was indicted Dec. 21 by a federal grand jury on a dozen felony counts linked to four failed takeover situations in 1985 and ’86. The charges are part of a network of securities fraud prosecutions tracing indirectly back to the Ivan F. Boesky insider trading scandal that broke more than two years ago.
None of the charges relate to Bilzerian’s takeover of Singer, a defense contractor he acquired a year ago for $1.06 billion after a protracted struggle.
That takeover marked Bilzerian’s first major acquisition, and he has since been selling off parts of the company. Bilzerian told reporters Thursday that his indictment is “really not having any impact on Singer.”
A former real estate speculator who resides in Tampa, Fla., Bilzerian is one of the most prominent figures to be implicated thus far in an expanding federal crackdown on securities trading abuse.
He was accused in the indictment of a pattern of violations that helped him amass millions of dollars in wealth through hostile takeover maneuvering aided in part by Jefferies & Co., a Los Angeles brokerage that allegedly bought stock on Bilzerian’s behalf under a secret, illegal arrangement.
The companies allegedly targeted by Bilzerian were Hammermill Paper Co., H. H. Robertson Co., Cluett Peabody & Co. and Armco Inc.
Evidence for the indictment was partly supplied by Boyd L. Jefferies, founder of the Jefferies brokerage, who himself was implicated in securities fraud in early 1987 by Boesky, the now-imprisoned inside trader who turned state’s evidence in exchange for lenient treatment.