Former Grey Executive Sentenced to 70 Months

NEW YORK Mitch Mosallem, the former executive vice president and director of graphic services at Grey Worldwide, was sentenced on Thursday morning in federal court here to serve 70 months in prison.

Furthermore, he will have to make restitution on $247,000 of $1.3 million in kickbacks he and others received from 1991 to 2000.

Mosallem pleaded guilty in April to conspiring with former salesmen at The Color Wheel, a New York-based print production house, to rig bids and overbill Grey clients such as Brown & Williamson on print work. He faced a sentence ranging from 63-78 months.

“I wish I could turn back the clock and make this nightmare disappear and erase the misery I’ve caused to my family, friends and colleagues,” Mosallem said in his statement to the court. “I will forever try to redeem myself in the eyes of my daughter, whose life I nearly destroyed.”

His lawyer, Paul Bergman, asked U.S. District Court Chief Judge Thomas Griesa for leniency, citing Mosallem’s voluntary amending of tax returns and his admission of responsibility for his crimes.

“Aside from other considerations, Mr. Mosallem contributed to other people, who otherwise wouldn’t have violated the law, having ended up committing felonies,” Judge Griesa said. “That is tragic.”

One of those considerations, the judge said, was the fact that investigators recently found $31,000 in cash in Mosallem’s Manhattan apartment, which he had not reported. Bergman explained that at least $10,000 of that money had come from officials of the Moroccan government, who had rented the dwelling from Mosallem.

“The apartment was left in a state of disrepair,” Bergman said. “The Moroccan government paid Mr. Mosallem for the damage. The rest of the cash was for Mr. Mosallem to help take care of his family while he is in prison.”

At the conclusion of the sentencing hearing, Mosallem, dressed in a dark suit, removed his tie and was escorted by federal marshalls to a detention center in Brooklyn.

One of the other factors the judge took into account was the fact that Mosallem had previously been convicted of similar charges of bid-rigging with vendors in 1983, when he worked in the print department at ad agency AC&R.

Last Friday, a jury acquitted John Steinmetz, a former associate director for graphic services at Grey who worked under Mosallem, of one count of bid-rigging. The same jury found former Color Wheel salesman Birj Deckmejian guilty on one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud in connection with an overbilling scheme. He is expected to be sentenced sometime within the next four months.

Meanwhile, the Department of Justice’s investigation is ongoing, prosecutors said. There is speculation that with the trials in the case completed, a new round of indictments involving other print production houses and ad agencies is likely to come next year.