Trial Date For Mosallem, Color Wheel Defendants

NEW YORK — A trail date has been set for the federal government’s case against Mitch Mosallem, the former Grey Worldwide vice president for graphic services, and three defendants associated with The Color Wheel for April 14, 2003.

U.S. District Court Chief Judge Thomas Griesa, who will be presiding over the case, told the court Wednesday that he expects the trial to last six weeks.

Back in May, a federal grand jury indicted Mosallem, Haluk Ergulec, The Color Wheel’s owner, Birj Deckmejian, a print services salesperson for the firm, and John Ghianni, a former salesman for Quality House of Graphics. The Color Wheel itself was also charged as a defendant.

The indictment, which was filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, charged Mosallem, Ghianni, and Color Wheel with conspiring to rig bids and allocate contracts for retouching and separation services purchased by Grey on behalf of one of its clients, tobacco giant Brown & Williamson, from late 1994 until 2001. The indictment also charged Mosallem, Ergulec, Deckmejian and the Color Wheel with conspiring to defraud certain Grey clients in a phony billing scheme from 1991 until July 2000.

They have pleaded not guilty.

So far, 10 other defendants have pleaded guilty in cases related to the investigation, with the most recent plea coming from Steven Briggin, a sales representative for Darbert Offset, a new York-based printing house. On Thursday, he pleaded guilty rigging bids and conspiring to pay kickbacks to an unnamed purchasing agent associated with mid-level ad shop Impact Communications, New York. This case is not directly associated with The Color Wheel, but became known to prosecutors as a result of that investigation, sources said.

Others who have pleaded guilty recently include Joe Panaccione, who went by the professional name of “Joe Payne,” was a former vice president in Grey’s graphic services department and worked under Mosallem. He pleaded guilty in October to two counts of overbilling Grey clients for print services executed by The Color Wheel, a Manhattan based graphics supplier.

That same month, Gabriel Casas, a former salesman for the Color Wheel pleaded guilty to mail fraud and anti-trust conspiracy.