Former Grey Exec Mosallem Surprises With Guilty Plea

NEW YORK Mitch Mosallem, who headed the print production department at Grey Worldwide, has pleaded guilty to 11 counts of anti-trust, conspiracy, mail fraud, bid rigging and tax evasion in U.S. District Court in Manhattan. The charges stem from an ongoing investigation of the print and advertising industries by the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division.

The move surprised many courtroom observers and drew an angry response from U.S. District Court Chief Judge Thomas Griesa, who said it was “an imposition” that he had only a half-day to consider the agreement when the case had been on the calendar for so long. Mosallem’s trial was scheduled to begin early next week.

Mosallem, 59, faces 63 to 78 months in prison and fines ranging from $130,000 to $650,000. As part of his plea agreement, he stood up in court and recounted kickbacks he received from third party print suppliers from 1990 to 2001 totalling $1.2 million.

Meanwhile, John Ghianni, a Mosallem co-defendant, is scheduled to go to trial on April 14, 2003. Two other co-defendants, Birj Deckmejian, a former Color Wheel salesman, and John Steinmetz, a former Grey employee who worked under Mosallem, are scheduled for trial on October 14, 2003.

Haluk Ergulec, former owner of The Color Wheel, which gave kickbacks to some agency executives who overcharged their clients for print jobs, was sentenced last month in U.S. District Court to 37 months in prison.