Final judgments were entered against Jeffrey Weitzen, the former CEO of computer maker Gateway, Inc., and former controller Robert D. Manza, to settle fraud charges with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
They consented to the entry of the final judgments on January 25 without admitting or denying the allegations made by the SEC that they engaged in fraud and other violations of the federal securities laws in connection with Gateway’s recognition of revenue in the third quarter of 2000.
The technology industry began to experience a downturn in 2000 with the collapse of the dot-com bubble, which led to steep losses and lower stock prices at many tech and Internet companies.
The SEC accused the pair of falsely representing Gateway’s financial condition in the third quarter of 2000 in order to meet financial analysts’ earnings and revenue expectations. Among other transactions, the SEC alleged that Manza and Weitzen caused Gateway to record $47.2 million in revenue from a one-time sale of fixed assets to Gateway’s third-party information technology services provider in violation of U.S. GAAP, and that Manza and another defendant, John J. Todd, then Gateway’s CFO, caused Gateway to recognize an additional $21 million in revenue from an incomplete sale of computers to a second entity, also in violation of GAAP.
The SEC alleged that without either of these transactions, Gateway would not have met analysts’ expectations with regard to its third-quarter revenue.
Weitzen consented to a final judgment permanently enjoining him from violations of the antifraud provisions of the securities laws, and payment of a $110,000 civil penalty. Manza consented to a final judgment permanently enjoining him from violations of the securities laws. Manza also consented to be barred for five years from acting as an officer or director of a public company, and to pay disgorgement of $85,150, constituting his salary and bonus for the relevant quarter, together with prejudgment interest thereon of $75,551.43 totaling $160,701.43, and a $110,000 penalty.
In March 7, 2007, a jury had rendered a unanimous verdict finding Manza and Todd liable for fraud, making false representations to auditors, aiding and abetting issuer reporting violations and other violations following a three-week trial. On May 30, 2007, Judge Roger T. Benitez overturned the jury verdict on the fraud charges and certain other claims. The SEC appealed his ruling, along with the district court’s prior Aug. 1, 2006, grant of summary judgment to Weitzen dismissing the SEC’s case as to Weitzen. On June 23, 2011, the Ninth Circuit reversed those rulings and remanded the matter to the District Court. Todd’s case remains pending, the SEC noted.
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